Skip to main content

Full text of "Ireland : the people's history of Ireland"

See other formats

Presented  to  the 


by  the 




I  R  E  L  A  N 






tt*i  .,  J,  i    , 

VJT  i  •  *  *  »  i  y  . 



Bv  P.  F.  COLLIER  &  SON 



Ireland— i  VoL  i, 





Prefatory — Territorial  Divisions  of  Ireland — Physical  Features  of 
the  Country— Peculiarities  of  Soil,  Climate,  and  Scenery 3 


Further  of  the  Characteristics  and  Resources  of  the  Island — Present 
Form  of  Government 12 

The  Original  Inhabitants  of  Ireland 19 


The  Religion  of  Ancient  Ireland — Many  Writers  say  it  was  Wor- 
ship of  the  Sun,  Moon,  and  Elements 24 


Advent  of  St.  Patrick — His  Wonderful  Apostolic  Career  in  Ireland 
— A  Captive  and  a  Swineherd  for  Years,  he  Escapes  and  becomes 
the  Regenerator  of  the  Irish  Nation 29 

Ancient  Laws  and  Government  of  the  Irish 35 


Period  of  Danish  Invasion 47 


iv  Contents 


Battle  of  Clontarf,  A.D.  1014— Total  Overthrow  of  the  Danish  Army 
and  Power  in  Ireland 52 

Desolating  Civil  Wars  Among  the  Irish 58 


The  Norman- Welsh  Invasion  of  Ireland — Their  Landing  in  Wex- 
ford 63 

Superior  Armament  of  the  Normans — Arrival  of  Henry  II 72 


Prince  John  "Lackland"  Created  "Lord"  of  Ireland — Splendid 
Heroism  of  Sir  Armoricus  Tristram 79 


Ireland  Under  the  Earlier  Edwards — The  Younger  Bruce  Elected 
King  by  the  Irish — Battle  of  Athenry — Death  of  Bruce  at  Fau- 
ghart  Hill 86 

Prince  Lionel  Viceroy  for  Edward  III— The  Statute  of  Kilkenny    91 

Richard  IPs  Invasions— Heroic  Art  MacMur rough 95 

Ireland  During  the  Wars  of  the  Roses 101 




OF  JAMES  I  109 

The  "Reformation" — New  Cause  of  Discord  in  Ireland in 

Contents  v 


The  Reformation  Period  Continued — Edward  VI,  Mary  I,  Eliza- 
beth, and  "John  the  Proud" 117 

The  Geraldine  War— Hugh  O'Neill  and  "Red  Hugh"  O'Donnell..  123 


Confiscation  of  Desmond's  Domains — English  Plantation  of  Mun- 
ster 130 

Conditions  in  Ulster  Before  the  Revolt  of  O'Neill 133 

O'Neill  Draws  the  Sword — Victories  of  Clontibret  and  Armagh...  136 

Ireland  Still  Victorious— Battles  of  Tyrrell's  Pass  and  Drumfluich. .  141 


Irish   Victory   of  the   Yellow   Ford,    Called   the   Bannockburn   of 
Ireland 145 


How  O'Neill  Baffled  Essex— O'Donnell's  Victory  of  the   Curlew 
Mountains 149 


King   Philip    Sends    Envoys   to   O'Neill — The   Earl   of   Mountjoy 
Lord  Deputy „ 153 


Ireland's    Fortunes    Take    a    Bad   Turn— Defeat    of    O'Neill    and 
O'Donnell  at  Kinsale 158 


Sad  Death  of  O'Donneli  in  Spain — Heroic  Defence  of  Dunboy....  166 


Wane   of   Irish   Resistance — O'Neill    Surrenders   to   Mountjoy   at 
Mellifont 170 

Treachery  of  James  I  to  the  Irish  Chiefs— "The  Flight  of  the  Earls"  174 

vi  Contents 



Confiscations  and  Penal  Laws— The  Iron  Rule  of  Lord  Strafford. .  185 

Irish  Military  Exiles — Rory  O'More  Organizes  a  Great  Insurrection  192 


Horrors  of  Civil  War  in  Ulster — Battle  of  Kilrush — Rory  O'More 
Disappears  from  History 200 


Proceedings  of  the  Confederation  of  Kilkenny — Arrival  of  Owen 
Roe  O'Neill  and  Rinuccini 208 


Treason  of  Ormond  to  the  Catholic  Cause — Owen  Roe  O'Neill, 
Aided  by  the  Nuncio,  Prepares  to  Fight 218 


The  Famous  Irish  Victory  of  Benburb— Cruel  Murder  of  the  Cath- 
olic Bishop  of  Ross 221 


Ormond's  Treacherous  Surrender  of  Dublin — Ireland's  Choice  of 
Two  Evils 226 


"The  Curse  of  Cromwell"— Massacres  of  Drogheda  and  Wexford 
—Death  of  Sir  Phelim  O'Neill 230 


Sad  Fate  of  the  Vanquished— Cruel  Executions  and  Wholesale 
Confiscations 236 


Ireland  Further  Scourged  Under  Charles  II— Murder  of  Arch- 
bishop Plunket— Accession  of  James  II 240 

Contents  vii 


Well  Meant  but  Imprudent  Policy  of  King  James — England  In- 
vites William  of  Orange  to  Assume  the  Throne 245 


Irish  Soldiers  Ill-Treated  in  England — Policy  of  Tyrconnel — King 
•James  Chosen  by  the  Irish  Nation ..............._.........  253 


ERICK, IN  1690 259 


King  James  in  Ireland — Enthusiastic  Reception  of  Him  by  the  Irish 
People — Military  Operations 261 


Jacobites  Foiled  at  Londonderry — Mountcashel  Defeated  at  New- 
town  Butler — King  James's  Irish  Parliament 264 


King  James's  Imprudent  Acts — Witty  Retort  of  a  Protestant  Peer 
—Architectural  Features  of  Dublin 268 


Composition  of  the  Hostile  Armies — King  William  Arrives  in  Ire- 
land— Narrowly  Escapes  Death  on  Eve  of  Battle 271 


Battle  of  the  Boyne — Death  of  Marshal  Schomberg — Valor  of  Irish 
Cavalry — Inexcusable  Flight  of  King  James 277 


Irish  Army  Retires  on  "The  Line  of  the  Shannon" — Douglas  Re- 
pulsed at  Athlone — King  William  Begins  Siege  of  Limerick 
— Sarsfield's  Exploit 286 


William's  Assault  on  Limerick  Repulsed  with  Slaughter — Heroism 
of  the  Irish  Women — Irish  Humanity  to  the  English  Wounded  294 

viii  Contents 


Fall  of  Cork  and  Kinsale — Lauzun,  the  French  General,  Accused  by 
Irish  Writers — Sarsfield's  Popularity — Tyrconnel  Returns  to 
Ireland — Berwick  Departs 302 


AUGHRIM,  IN  JULY,  1691  311 


General  St  Ruth  Arrives  at  Limerick  to  Command  the  Irish  Army 
— His  Marvelous  Activity — Brave  and  Able,  but  Vain  and 
Obstinate  '. 313 


De  Ginkel  Besieges  Athlone — Memorable  Resistance  of  the  Irish 
Garrison — The  Battle  at  the  Bridge — St.  Ruth's  Fatuous  Obsti- 
nacy— Town  Taken  by  Surprise 318 


The  Irish  Army  Falls  Back  and  Takes  Post  at  Aughrim — Descrip- 
tion of  the  Field — Disposition  of  the  Irish  Forces — Baal  Dearg 
O'DonnelPs  Apathy 326 


De  Ginkel  Marches  After  St.  Ruth — The  Latter  Prepares  to  "Con- 
quer or  Die" — His  Speech  to  the  Irish  Army  on  the  Eve  of 
Fighting 332 


Decisive  Battle  of  Aughrim — It  Opens  Favorably  for  the  Irish — 
Desperate  Fighting  in  the  Centre  and  at  Urachree — Fortune  or 
Treason  Favors  De  Ginkel 336 


Battle  of  Aughrim  Continued — Its  Crisis — The  English  Turn  Irish 
Left — St.  Ruth  Killed  by  Cannon  Ball — Confusion  and  Final 
Defeat  of  Irish  Army 342 


Mortality  Among  Officers  of  Rank  on  Both  Sides — Acknowledged 
English  Loss  at  Aughrim — English  and  Irish  Comments  on 
Conduct  of  Battle 35<> 

Contents  ix 




Second  Siege  of  Limerick — Terrific  Bombardment — The  English, 
Aided  by  Treachery,  Cross  the  Shannon — Massacre  of  Thomond 
Bridge  363 


Capitulation  of  Limerick — Terms  of  the  Famous  "Violated  Treaty" 
— Cork  Harbor  Tragedy 371 


The  Irish  Troops,  as  a  Majority,  Enter  the  French  Service — King 
James  Receives  Them  Cordially — His  Testimony  of  Their  De- 
votion and  Courage 383 


Early  Exploits  of  the  Irish  Brigade  in  the  Service  of  France — At 
Landen,  Cremona,  and  Blenheim — Tribute  Paid  it  by  an  En- 
glish Historian... , 388 


The  Irish  Brigade  in  the  Campaigns  of  North  Italy  and  Flanders — 
Its  Strength  at  Various  Periods — Count  Dillon's  Reply  to  King 
Louis  XV 393 


The  Austrian  Succession — Campaign  of  1745 — Magnificent  Achieve- 
ment of  the  Irish  Brigade  at  Fontenoy — Prince  Louis's  Adieu 
to  the  Heroes 399 

SHIP OF  GRATTAN,  A.D,  1780  409 


Anti-Catholic  Penal  Laws — Their  Drastic,  Brutal  and  Absurd  Pro- 
visions— Professional  Informers,  Called  "Priest-Hunters" 411 

x  Contents 


Restrictions  on  Irish  Trade  and  Manufactures — All  Creeds  Suffer 
— Presbyterian  Exodus  to  America — Death  of  Royal  Person- 
ages— Accession  of  George  1 424 


Further  Commercial  Restrictions — Continued  Exodus  of  Working 
People — Jonathan  Swift — "The  Patriot  Party" — Tyranny  of 
Primate  Boulter 431 


Official  Extravagance — Charles  Lucas,  Leader  of  Irish  Opposition 
— Chesterfield  Viceroy — His  Recall — Dorset's  Vile  Administra- 
tion   439 


More  Persecution  of  Catholics  Under  George  II — Secret  Com- 
mittee Formed — Snubbed  by  the  Speaker — Received  by  the 
Viceroy — Anti-Union  Riot  in  Dublin 447 


Accession  of  George  III — His  Character — Boasts  of  Being  "a 
Briton" — Death  of  Dr.  Lucas — Lord  Townsend's  Novel  Idea 
of  Governing  Ireland — Septennial  Parliament  Refused 452 


The  Peace  of  Paris — Agrarian  Warfare  in  Ireland — Judicial  Mur- 
der of  Father  Sheehy— All  who  Swore  Against  Him  Die  Violent 
Deaths — Secret  Societies 457 


Flood  and  Grattan— Sudden  Rise  of  the  Latter— Speaks  for  a  Free 
Commerce — The  Volunteer  Movement — England  Yields  to  Irish 
Demand  ,  4°2 




Prefatory — Territorial  Divisions  of  Ireland — Physical  Features  of 
the  Country — Peculiarities  of  Soil,  Climate,  and  Scenery 

HPHAT  famous  English  Republican,  Thomas  Paine — 
*  whose  political  pamphlets  have  been  admired  quite 
as  much  as  his  theological  works  have  been  censured — 
uttered  in  "Common.  Sense,"  published  in  1776,  while  he 
was  serving  under  Washington  in  the  Continental  Army, 
this  striking  aphorism :  "Europe,  and  not  England,  is  the 
parent  country  of  America."  His  object  was  to  stimulate 
the  patriotic  pride  of  such  American  colonists — and  they 
were  many — as  were  not  of  English  birth  or  descent, 
and  to  proclaim  that  the  other  great  branches  of  the  hu- 
man race,  settled  in  America,  must,  of  necessity,  have  a 
vital  interest  in  the  successful  issue  of  the  War  for  In- 
dependence. No  other  great  country  of  the  world  has 
a  population  made  up  of  so  many  divers  "previous  na- 
tionalities," all  combined  into  one  gigantic  political  whole, 
as  the  United  States  of  America.  Most  of  the  notable 
nations  of  the  Old  World  are  here  represented  not  by 
hundreds  or  thousands,  but  by  millions  of  citizens,  "racy 
of  the  soil,"  and  proud  to  call  themselves  Americans.  A 
French  patriot  once  said,  speaking  in  the  Chamber  of 
Deputies:  "There  is  no  French  race.  France  is  a  grand 
political  entity  which  all  true  Frenchmen,  of  whatever 
race,  worship."  This  fine  sentiment  can  be  even  more 


4  The  People's  History  of  Ireland 

logically  applied  to  America  and  Americans,  for  both  are 
still  in  the  formative  period.  Several  centuries  hence, 
perhaps,  a  race  of  people  distinctively  American  in  all 
respects  may  occupy  this  country,  but  while  the  great 
stream  of  European  immigration  continues  to  flow  to- 
ward the  setting  sun  there  can  not  exist  such  a  racial  con- 
dition in  this  Republic,  except  in  those  remote  districts 
in  which  the  immigrant  rarely  seeks  a  home. 

Most  Americans  have  read  something  of  the  political 
misfortunes  of  Ireland,  but  very  many  among  us  have  not 
made  her  history  even  a  partial  study,  and  have  often 
taken  their  views  of  it,  at  second  hand,  from  sources  that 
could  not  fail  to  be  partial  and,  therefore,  prejudicial. 
We  do  not  need  to  apologize  for  seeking  to  throw  more 
light,  in  a  simple  yet  comprehensive  manner,  on  the  his- 
tory of  that  beautiful  island  the  blood  of  whose  exiled 
children  flows  in  the  veins  of  not  less  than  20,000,000  of 
the  American  people.  The  Irish  race  owes  much  to 
America,  and  America,  in  turn,  owes  much  to  it.  Truly 
has  it  been  said  of  the  American  Irish  that  they  were  with 
the  Republic  at  its  birth,  guarded  its  infancy,  rejoiced 
in  its  growth  and  prosperity,  and  will  endure  with  it 
until  the  end,  which  comes,  in  the  fulness  of  time,  to  even 
the  greatest  among  nations.  Thomas  Francis  Meagher 
(Ma'her  or  Marr) — the  young  Irish  patriot  and  orator 
of  1848,  and  afterward  a  famous  Union  general  of  the 
Civil  War — in  one  of  the  brilliant  speeches  he  delivered  in 
this  country,  said:  "When,  in  1849,  I  was  a  political  cap- 
tive on  board  an  English  battleship,  I  beheld,  one  bright 
morning,  through  the  porthole  of  my  cabin,  while  we 
were  anchored  in  an  Australian  harbor,  the  Stars  and 

The  People's   History  of  Ireland  5 

Stripes  floating  from  the  mast  of  a  stately  American 
frigate  and  hailed  Liberty  at  my  prison-gate !"  And  this 
is  the  sentiment  of  every  honest  immigrant  who  seeks  the 
shelter  of  our  flag. 

Ireland,  called  poetically,  because  of  its  perennial  ver- 
dure, the  Emerald  Isle,  lies  in  the  Atlantic  Ocean,  imme- 
diately westward  of  the  larger  island  of  Great  Britain, 
from  which  it  is  separated  by,  in  most  parts,  a  wide  and 
deep  strait,  varying  in  width  from  14  miles,  where 
the  headlands  of  Antrim  approach  the  western  coast  of 
Scotland,  to  about  125  miles,  which  is  the  maximum  dis- 
tance from  the  coast  of  England.  This  strait  is  called, 
running  from  north  to  south  consecutively,  the  North 
Channel,  the  Irish  Sea,  and  St.  George's  Channel.  The 
high  shore  of  Scotland  is  always  visible,  in  clear  weather, 
from  the  northeast  coast  of  Ireland,  and  the  mountains  of 
Wales,  about  65  miles  distant,  may  be  seen,  under  similar 
conditions,  from  Bray  Head  and  other  points  on  the  Lein- 
ster  coast,  but  no  part  of  England  can  be  seen  at  any  time 
from  the  Irish  shore.  Ireland,  considered  geographically, 
is  of  an  irregular  rhomboidal  shape,  by  some  writers  com- 
pared to  an  oblong  shield,  and  is  situated  between  Lati- 
tude 51°,  26'  and  55°  21'  North,  and  Longitude  5°  21' 
and  10°  26'  West,  projecting  farther  into  the  Atlantic 
Ocean,  to  the  westward,  than  any  other  portion  of  Euro- 
pean soil.  Its  total  area,  including  many  small  islands 
close  to  the  coast,  is  about  32,500  square  miles,  or  19,000 
less  than  England,  2,000  more  than  Scotland,  25,000 
more  than  Wales,  and  nearly  2,000  less  than  our  inland 
State  of  Indiana.  Ireland  would  make,  almost  to  a  frac- 
tion, thirty-two  States  the  size  of  Rhode  Island,  which 

6  The  People's  History  of  Ireland 

has  a  Legislature  of  its  own — a  privilege  the  Green  Isle 
does  not,  at  present,  enjoy. 

The  island  is  divided  into  four  provinces — in  ancient 
times  it  had  five;  namely,  Leinster  in  the  east,  Ulster  in 
the  north,  Connaught  in  the  west,  and  Munster  in  the 
south.  These  are,  again,  divided  into  two-and-thirty 
counties — a  system  of  Anglo-Norman,  or  English,  inven- 
tion, and,  according  to  the  learned  Doctor  Joyce,  savant 
and  historian,  they  generally  represent  the  older  native 
territories  and  sub-kingdoms.  King  John,  "Lord"  of 
Ireland,  formed  twelve  of  them  in  the  twelfth  century — 
Dublin,  Kildare,  Meath,  Uriel  (or  Louth),  Carlow,  Kil- 
kenny, Wexford,  Waterford,  Cork,  Kerry,  Limerick,  and 
Tipperary.  Henry  VIII  divided  Meath  proper  into  two 
counties  and  called  one  Westmeath.  King's  and  Queen's 
Counties  were  formed  in  the  reign  of  Mary  I,  who  mar- 
ried Philip  II  of  Spain,  out  of  the  old  districts  of  Leix 
and  Offaly.  Hence  their  capitals  are  called,  respectively, 
Philipstown  and  Maryborough.  The  county  Longford 
was  formed  out  of  the  territory  of  Annaly,  by  Deputy 
Sir  Henry  Sydney,  about  1565.  The  same  official  di- 
vided Connaught  into  six  counties — Gal'way,  Mayo,  Sligo, 
Roscommon,  Leitrim,  and  Clare.  The  latter  county,  al- 
though situated  on  the  Connaught  bank  of  the  river  Shan- 
non, was  subsequently  given  to  Munster,  because  it  had 
formed  a  part  of  that  province  in  ancient  times.  Antrim 
and  Down  were  organized  into  counties  early  in  the  reign 
of  Queen  Elizabeth,  and  Lord  Deputy  Perrot,  about 
1584,  formed  seven  others  out  of  Ulster;  namely,  Ar- 
magh, Monaghan,  Tyrone,  Coleraine  (now  Derry),  Don- 
egal, Fermanagh,  and  Cavan.  Dublin  County,  at  first, 

The  People's  History  of  Ireland  7 


included  Wicklow,  but,  in  1605,  during  the  reign  of 
James  I,  Sir  Arthur  Chichester  made  the  latter  a  sepa- 
rate county. 

The  existing  division  of  the  counties  among  the  prov- 
inces is  as  follows :  Munster  comprises  Clare,  Cork,  Kerry, 
Limerick,  Tipperary,  and  Waterford;  Ulster  contains 
Antrim,  Armagh,  Cavan,  Donegal,  Down,  Fermanagh, 
Deny,  Monaghan,  and  Tyrone;  Connaught  has  Galway, 
Leitrim,  Mayo,  Roscommon,  and  Sligo;  Leinster  com- 
prises Carlow,  Dublin,  Kildare,  Kilkenny,  King's  County, 
Longford,  Louth,  Meath,  Queen's  County,  Westmeath, 
Wexford,  and  Wicklow. 

The  reader  ought  to  know,  however,  that  a  majority 
of  the  Ulster  and  Connaught  counties,  and  some  in  Lein- 
ster and  Munster,  did  not  recognize  their  English  desig- 
nations, or  yield  to  English  law,  in  any  shape,  until  after 
the  accession  of  James  I  to  the  British  throne,  in  1603. 
They  were  governed  by  their  own  princes,  chiefs,  and 
judges,  under  the  old  Brehon  law,  until  "the  Peace  of 
Mellifont"  in  that  year. 

While  the  Irish  counties  differ  very  materially  in  ex- 
tent, the  provinces  show  the  following  proportions :  Mun- 
ster, 6,064,579  acres;  Ulster,  5,475,458;  Leinster,  4,871,- 
118;  Connaught,  4,392,043.  The  island  is  further  sub- 
divided into  316  baronies,  2,532  parishes,  and  60,760 
townlands,  which  average  about  300  acres  each.  These 
are  figures  with  which  every  student  of  Irish  history 
should  be  familiar. 

The  country  is,  in  general,  very  fertile,  and  grows 
cereals  luxuriantly.  The  green  crops,  such  as  turnips, 
parsnips,  cabbages,  and  kindred  vegetables,  are  unex- 

8  The  People's  History  of  Ireland 

celled.  Its  grazing  capacity  is  very  great,  and  Irish 
horses,  horned  cattle,  sheep,  and  swine  are  among  the 
choicest  in  Europe.  Apples,  pears,  plums,  and  the  smaller 
fruits  grow  abundantly  in  the  mild,  moist  climate,  but  the 
Irish  sun  will  not  ripen  peaches,  grapes,  or  tomatoes,  un- 
less they  are  under  glass.  Poultry  thrive  wondrously, 
and  there  is  a  large  exportation  of  fowl  and  eggs  to  the 
British  markets.  Irish  butter  ranks  high  also.  Yet  the 
country  is  poor,  chiefly  because  of  the  scarcity  of  manu- 
factures, and  for  other  reasons  that  will  be  explained  as 
we  proceed. 

The  Irish  climate  is  equable,  but,  in  general,  damp, 
when  compared  with  that  of  America.  Neither  summer 
heat  nor  winter  cold  produces  discomfort,  except  at  very 
rare  intervals.  Violent  storms  are  infrequent,  except 
along  the  western  coast,  and  electrical  disturbances  are 
much  rarer  than  in  our  atmosphere.  Only  one  cyclonic 
storm,  that  of  January  6,  1839,  visited  Ireland  during  the 
nineteenth  century,  and  it  is  known  to  this  day  as  "the  Big 

Irish  scenery  is  peculiar  in  character — soft,  yet  bold  of 
outline,  as  regards  its  mountain  regions.  The  cliffs  on 
the  Connaught,  Ulster,  and  Munster  coasts  are  tall  and 
beetling — those  of  Moher,  in  Clare,  and  those  that  flank 
the  Giants'  Causeway — a  remarkable  basaltic  formation 
in  Antrim — being  the  most  notable.  All  the  elevations 
that  rise  above  a  thousand  feet  are  clothed  with  the 
heather,  which  is  also  peculiar  to  Scotland,  and  this 
plant  changes  its  hue  with  every  season  so  that 
there  is  a  constant  shifting  of  color,  which  adds  much 
to  the  charm  of  the  landscape.  The  Irish  sky,  too, 

The  People's  History  of  Ireland  9 

is  changeful,  so  much  so  that  an  Irish  poet,  in  paying 
tribute  to  the  beauty  of  his  wife,  wrote: 

"Eyes  like  the  skies  of  dear  Erin,  our  mother, 
Where  shadow  and  sunshine  are  chasing  each  other!" 

Snow  generally  disappears  from  the  summits  of  the  Irish 
mountains  about  the  second  week  of  May.  The  mildness 
of  the  climate  in  a  latitude  so  far  toward  the  north  is  due 
to  the  powerful  influence  of  the  warm  Gulf  Stream,  and 
this  also  explains  the  verdure  of  the  country  at  almost 
all  periods  of  the  year.  A  striking  characteristic  of  the 
Irish  mountains  is  that  they,  in  general,  rise  abruptly 
from  the  plain,  which  gives  them  an  appearance  of  greater 
altitude  than  they  really  possess ;  the  highest  peak  in  the 
island — that  of  Carn  Tual  in  Kerry — being  only  a  trifle 
over  3,400  feet.  There  is  still  another  peculiarity  of  the 
Irish  mountain  system  which  strikes  all  tourists — the 
highland  chains,  for  the  most  part,  rise  near  the  coast, 
and  follow  its  course,  thus  making  it  one  of  the  boldest 
and  grandest  in  Europe,  while  some  detached  groups, 
such  as  the  Galtee  and  Slieve  Bloom  ranges  in  Munster 
and  Leinster,  the  Curlews  in  Connaught  and  Slieve  Snacht 
(Snowy  range)  in  Ulster,  seem  to  be  independent  forma- 

The  Irish  lakes  are  numerous  and,  in  general,  pictu- 
resque. Lough  Neagh  (Nay)  in  the  north,  Lough  Corrib 
in  the  west,  and  Lough  Dearg — an  expanse  of  the  Shan- 
non— are  the  largest,  but  the  most  famed  for  scenery 
are  those  of  Killarney  in  Kerry,  Lough  Dan  in  Wick- 
low,  and  Lough  Gill  in  Sligo.  The  Irish  rivers  are 
many,  and,  in  the  main,  beautiful  streams.  The  Shannon 

io  The   People's  History  of  Ireland 

is  the  greatest  river  in  the  realm  of  Great  Britain  and  Ire- 
land, while  the  Suir,  the  Barrow,  the  Nore,  the  Slaney, 
the  Corrib,  the  Erne,  the  Foyle,  the  Boyne,  and  the  Liffey 
are  also  considerable  rivers  and  possess  enough  water- 
power,  were  it  scientifically  utilized,  to  turn  the  wheels 
of  the  world's  machinery.  The  Munster  Blackwater, 
celebrated,  like  its  sister  river,  the  Suir,  in  the  charming 
poetry  of  Edmund  Spenser,  is  called,  because  of  its  pe- 
culiar loveliness,  "the  Irish  Rhine."  After  a  winding  and 
picturesque  course  through  the  south  of  Munster,  it  falls 
into  the  ocean  at  Youghal — a  town  of  which  the  famous 
Sir  Walter  Raleigh,  of  Queen  Elizabeth's  Court,  was 
once  mayor. 

One-seventh  of  the  surface  of  Ireland  is  computed  to 
be  under  bogs — semi-spongy  formations,  claimed  by  some 
naturalists  to  be  the  decomposed  relics  of  mighty  forests 
with  which  Ireland  was  covered  in  remote  ages.  The 
aspect  of  these  "moors,"  as  they  are  called  by  the  British, 
is  dreary  enough  in  winter,  but  at  other  periods  they  have 
their  charms;  the  heather  and  mosses  with  which  they 
are,  in  many  places,  thickly  clothed,  changing  hue,  as 
on  the  mountains,  with  every  season.  Nearly  all  of  these 
bogs  are  capable  of  being  reclaimed  for  agricultural  uses, 
but  the  people  do  not  desire  their  reclamation,  for  the 
reason  that  they  furnish  cheap  fuel  to  most  of  the  rural 
districts,  where  there  is  neither  coal  nor  timber  supply. 
Owing  to  the  mildness  of  the  climate,  the  cut  and  dried 
sods  of  "peat,"  called  "turf,"  which  resemble  brown 
bricks,  take  the  place  of  coal  and  wood,  and  make  quite 
a  comfortable  fire.  "Stone  turf,"  produced  by  artificial 
pressure,  and  an  extra  drying  process,  makes  almost  as 

The  People's  History  of  Ireland  n 

hot  a  fire  as  anthracite,  but  is  much  dearer  than  the  ordi- 
nary article,  which  is  softer  and  lighter.  Indeed,  the 
common  Irish  turf  would  be  almost  useless  in  our  fierce 
winter  weather.  These  fuel  "reservoirs"  can  not  be  ex- 
hausted for  ages  to  come.  It  is  claimed  that,  by  some 
mysterious  process  of  nature,  they  renew  themselves  from 
time  to  time,  after  they  have  been  "given  a  rest"  by  the 
turf-cutters.  Many  large  bogs  occupy  the  summits  and 
sides  of  the  mountains,  and  seem  to  be  of  the  same  char- 
acter as  those  on  the  level  land.  Occasionally  the  high 
morasses  shift  their  positions,  like  glaciers,  only  with 
a  much  quicker  movement,  and  overwhelm,  like  the 
avalanche,  everything  in  their  path.  These  are  called 
"the  moving  bogs."  The  last  phenomenon  of  the  kind 
occurred  in  the  County  Kerry  a  few  years  ago,  when 
much  property  was  destroyed  and  several  lives  were  lost. 
Scientists  claim  that  these  bogs  are  undermined  by  bodies 
of  water,  which,  when  flooded,  lift  the  crust  and  carry 
it  with  them,  in  their  effort  to  find  their  natural  level. 
It  is  well  known  in  Ireland  that  several  small,  but  deep, 
lakes  now  occupy  places  that  were  formerly  covered  by 
these  strange  formations.  We  will  devote  a  separate 
chapter  to  other  features  of  this  interesting  country. 

12  The  People's  History  of  Ireland 


Further  of  the  Characteristics  and  Resources  of  the  Island  —  Present 
Form  of  Government 

OLD,  silver,  copper,  lead,  iron,  and  other  malleable 
minerals  are  found  in  Ireland.  The  gold  is  dis- 
covered in  small  quantities,  at  least  in  modern  times, 
but  the  beautiful  ornaments,  composed  of  that  precious 
metal,  and  much  used  by  the  ancient  Irish  nobility,  pre- 
served in  the  Museum  of  the  Royal  Irish  Academy,  Dub- 
lin, and  elsewhere  in  Ireland  and  Great  Britain,  would 
indicate  that  it  was  at  one  time  plentiful  in  the  island. 
Silver  is  found  in  paying  quantities  in  several  districts, 
and  silver  mines  are  now  in  operation  in  the  northern 
portion  of  Munster.  The  lead,  copper,  and  iron  de- 
posits have  never  been  seriously  worked,  and,  therefore, 
it  is  impossible  to  arrive  at  any  satisfactory  estimate  of 
their  extent.  Coal  is  found  in  many  counties,  but  the 
most  extensive  fields  are  in  Ulster.  Much  light  is  thrown 
on  this  subject  by  Kane's  "Resources  of  Ireland,"  which 
can  be  found,  most  likely,  in  the  public  libraries.  It  gives 
most  interesting  statistics,  but  they  would  be  far  too 
heavy  for  our  more  condensed  narrative. 

Ireland  possesses  over  seventy  harbors.  Fourteen  are 
of  the  first  class  and  can  shelter  the  very  largest  sea- 
going vessels,  whether  naval  or  mercantile.  Unhappily, 
excepting  those  of  Dublin,  Cork,  Limerick,  and  Belfast, 
they  are  comparatively  little  used  for  commerce,  for 

The  People's  History  of  Ireland  13 

reasons  that  will  present  themselves  in  succeeding 

Although  in  olden  times  a  thickly  wooded  country, 
Ireland  of  to-day  is  rather  bare  of  forests.  There  are 
numerous  luxuriant  groves  and  woodlands,  and  many  of 
the  highroads  are  bordered  with  stately  trees.  The  "quick- 
set hedges,"  planted  with  thorn  shrubs,  give,  particularly 
in  summer,  a  well-furnished  appearance  to  the  country, 
except  in  a  few  rather  barren  districts,  where  stone  walls, 
as  in  portions  of  New  England,  are  quite  common.  Irish 
farms  are  nearly  all  divided  and  subdivided  by  these  for- 
midable fences,  quick-set  or  stone,  so  that,  when  viewed 
from  any  considerable  height,  the  surrounding  country 
looks  like  a  huge,  irregular  checker-board — a  much  more 
picturesque  arrangement  of  the  landscape  than  our  Amer- 
ican barbed-wire  obstructions,  but  at  the  cost  of  a  vast 
amount  of  good  land,  in  the  aggregate. 

The  island  contains  many  populous,  finely  built  cities, 
well  governed  under  local  municipal  rule.  Dublin,  the 
capital,  contains,  including  suburbs,  about  300,000  people, 
and  is  considered  a  very  handsome  metropolis.  It  is 
surrounded  by  enchanting  hamlets,  and  the  sea-bathing 
resorts  in  the  neighborhood  are  delightful.  Belfast,  the 
great  commercial  city  of  Ulster,  is  almost  as  populous 
as  Dublin,  and  has  many  of  the  thrifty  characteristics 
of  an  American  municipality.  Cork,  Waterford,  Lim- 
erick, Galway,  Sligo,  Londonderry,  and  Drogheda  are 
still  places  of  much  importance,  although  some  of  them 
have  greatly  declined,  both  in  wealth  and  population, 
during  the  last  century. 

Owing  to  persistent  agitation,  and  some  fierce  upris- 

14  The  People's  History  of  Ireland 

ings,  which  caused  the  imperial  government  to  listen 
to  the  voice  of  reason,  the  social  and  political  conditions 
of  the  Irish  people  have  been  somewhat  improved  of 
late  years.  The  Irish  Church  was  disestablished  by  the 
Gladstone  Ministry,  in  1869,  and,  under  the  leadership 
of  Isaac  Butt,  Parnell,  Davitt,  and  other  Irish  patriots, 
Protestant  as  well  as  Catholic,  the  harsh  land  laws  have 
been  greatly  modified,  and  the  Irish  people  have  a  better 
"hold  on  their  soil,"  and  are  much  less  subject  to  the 
capricious  will  of  their  landlords  than  formerly.  They 
are,  also,  much  better  lodged  and  fed  than  in  the  last 
generation,  and  education,  of  a  practical  kind,  has  be- 
come almost  universal.  The  national  school  system  has 
many  features  in  common  with  our  own,  and  is  improv- 
ing year  by  year.  In  the  higher  branches  of  education, 
Ireland  is  well  supplied.  Trinity  College,  Dublin,  the 
Alma  Mater  of  many  celebrated  men,  has  existed  since 
the  reign  of  Queen  Elizabeth,  but,  until  the  end  of  the 
eighteenth  century,  was  not  open  to  Catholics.  May- 
nooth  College,  in  Kildare,  is  the  great  Catholic  ecclesias- 
tical seminary  of  Ireland,  and  there  is  also  a  Catholic 
university  in  Dublin.  Carlow,  Kilkenny,  Wexford,  and 
other  cities  have  Catholic  colleges,  and  there  are  Prot- 
estant seats  of  learning  in  Ulster  and  other  provinces. 
Cork,  Belfast,  and  Galway  have  each  branch  universi- 
ties, called  "Queen's  Colleges,"  which  are  conducted  on 
a  non-sectarian  basis.  These  are  only  a  few  of  Ireland's 
educational  institutions,  but  they  serve  to  illustrate  the 
agreeable  fact  that  a  dearth  of  opportunity  for  acquiring 
learning  is  no  longer  a  reproach  to  the  Irish  people,  or, 
rather,  to  their  English  law-makers.  The  taxes  which  sup- 

The  People's  History  of  Ireland  15 

port  the  institutions  maintained  by  Government  are  paid  by 
Ireland  into  the  Imperial  Treasury,  so  that  Great  Britain 
is  not  burdened  by  them,  as  many  suppose.  Recently, 
a  commission  appointed  by  the  British  Parliament  to  in- 
quire into  the  financial  relations  between  Great  Britain 
and  Ireland  reported  back  that  the  latter  country  was 
overtaxed  annually  to  the  amount  of  $15,000,000.  This 
grievance,  although  complained  of  by  all  classes,  has  not 
yet  been  redressed.  Dublin,  Belfast,  and  other  leading 
Irish  cities  possess  very  choice  and  extensive  libraries. 
That  of  Trinity  College,  in  the  first-mentioned  city,  is 
considered  one  of  the  best  in  Europe,  and  it  is  particu- 
larly rich  in  ancient  Irish  manuscripts,  some  of  which 
have  been  translated  from  the  original  Gaelic  into  En- 
glish by  the  late  Dr.  John  O'Donovan,  Professor  Eugene 
O'Curry,  and  other  Irish  savants.  There  are  many  large 
circulating  libraries  in  all  the  principal  municipalities, 
and  most  of  the  smaller  towns.  These  are  patronized, 
in  the  main,  by  poor  people  of  literary  taste,  who  can 
not  afford  satisfactory  libraries  of  their  own.  There  is 
now  a  revival  of  Irish  literature  in  Great  Britain  as  well 
as  in  Ireland  itself.  Many  English  and  Scotch  firms 
have  taken  to  printing  Irish  prose  and  poetry  in  the 
English  tongue,  so  that  Irish  authors  are  no  longer  con- 
fined, as  they  were,  with  a  few  exceptions,  of  old,  to 
an  insular  constituency.  Irish  literary  work  of  merit, 
when  not  strongly  patriotic,  sells  readily  in  Great  Britain 
to-day.  This  is  due,  partly,  to  a  growing  apprecia- 
tion of  Irish  talent  among  the  more  liberal  classes  of  the 
English  people,  and  still  more,  perhaps,  to  the  very  large 
Irish  population  that  has  developed  itself  on  the  soil  of 

Ireland — 2  Vol.  L 

1 6  The  People's  History  of  Ireland 

"the  predominant  partner"  within  the  last  half  of  the 
nineteenth  century.  There  is  a  strong  Chartist,  or  re- 
publican, element  in  England  friendly  to  the  Irish  claim 
of  legislative  independence,  and  this  element,  which  we 
hear  comparatively  little  of  in  America,  for  reasons  it 
is  not  necessary  to  discuss  in  this  history,  is  growing 
more  powerful  as  time  rolls  by,  and  some  day,  not  very 
distant,  perhaps,  is  bound  to  greatly  modify  the  existing 
governmental  system  of  the  British  Empire,  and  render  it 
more  popular. 

Ireland  is  very  rich  in  monastic  and  martial  ruins. 
The  round  towers  which  sentinel  the  island  are  declared 
by  many  antiquaries  to  antedate  the  Christian  period, 
and  are  supposed  to  have  been  pagan  temples  dedicated 
to  the  worship  of  the  sun,  which,  some  historians  claim, 
was  Ireland's  chief  form  of  the  Druidic  belief. 

"The  names  of  their  founders  have  vanished  in  the  gloom, 
Like  the  dry  branch  in  the  fire,  or  the  body  in  the  tomb, 
But  to-day,  in  the  ray,  their  shadows  stiM  they  cast — 
These  temples  of  forgotten  gods,  these  relics  of  the  past." 

The  grass-grown  circular  raths,  or  "forts,"  as  the  peas- 
antry call  them,  varying  greatly  in  diameter,  are  supposed 
to  be  remnants  of  the  Danish  invasion,  but  many  archae- 
ologists place  them  at  a  much  earlier  date,  and  give  them 
not  a  Danish  but  a  Danaan  origin — the  latter  tribe  being 
claimed  as  among  the  first  settlers  of  Ireland.  The  lar- 
gest "fort"  or  "dun"  in  the  island  is  that  near  Down- 
patrick,  which  is  sixty  feet  high  and  three-quarters  of 
a  mile  in  circumference.  Much  of  the  stately  architec- 
ture seen  in  the  ruins  of  abbeys,  churches,  and  chapels 
belongs  to  the  Anglo-Norman  period,  as  does  also  the 

The  People's  History  of  Ireland  17 

military  architecture,  which  survives  in  such  types  as 
the  keeps  of  Limerick,  Nenagh,  and  Trim;  but  the  Cel- 
tic type  of  church  construction  is  preserved,  after  the 
lapse  of  more  than  a  thousand  years,  in  its  primitive 
purity,  at  Glendalough  in  Wicklow,  Clonmacnois  in 
King's  County,  and  Cong  in  Gal  way. 

Three  hundred  years  of  warfare  with  the  pagan  Danes, 
and  five  hundred  with  the  Anglo-Normans  and  Anglo- 
Saxons,  made  Ireland  the  Island  of  Ruins,  as  well  as  the 
Island  of  Saints  and  Scholars. 

Before  January  i,  1801,  Ireland  was  a  distinct  and 
separate  kingdom,  having  a  Parliament  of  her  own  and 
connected  with  Great  Britain  by  what  has  been  called 
"the  golden  link  of  the  crown."  How  that  Parliament 
was,  unfortunately  for  all  concerned,  abolished  will  ap- 
pear in  its  proper  order.  Since  1801  Ireland  has  been 
governed  by  the  Imperial  Parliament,  sitting  in  London, 
composed  of  representatives  from  England,  Scotland, 
Ireland,  and  Wales — 670  in  all,  of  whom  103  are  Irish 
members.  Of  these  latter,  82  are  Nationalists,  or  Re- 
pealers of  the  Act  of  Union,  while  21  are  Unionists,  or 
adherents  of  the  present  political  connection.  The  pre- 
ponderating vote  of  Great  Britain  hopelessly  overwhelms 
the  Irish  representation,  and  hence  the  work  of  reform, 
as  far  as  Ireland  is  concerned,  is  slow  and  difficult.  The 
executive  functions  are  intrusted  to  a  Lord  Lieutenant, 
who  is  appointed  by  each  succeeding  Ministry,  to  repre- 
sent the  monarch  of  Great  Britain.  He  is  assisted  in  his 
duties  by  a  Chief  Secretary,  two  Under  Secretaries,  a 
Lord  Chancellor,  a  Lord  Chief  Justice,  a  Master  of  the 
Rolls,  a  Chief  Baron  of  the  Exchequer,  many  less  promi- 

1 8  The   People's  History  of  Ireland 

nent  officers,  and  a  Privy  Council,  which  comprises  sev- 
eral of  the  officials  mentioned,  together  with  the  leading 
supporters  of  the  crown  in  the  capital  and  throughout 
the  country.  Some  of  the  official  members  of  this  Council 
are  not  natives  of  Ireland ;  and  the  Lord  Lieutenant  him- 
self is  almost  invariably  an  English  or  Scotch  aristocrat 
of  high  rank  and  liberal  fortune.  No  Catholic  can  fill  the 
office  of  Viceroy  of  Ireland.  The  authority  of  the  latter 
is,  to  all  intents  and  purposes,  absolute.  In  seasons  of 
political  agitation,  even  when  there  is  no  violence,  he  can 
suspend  the  ordinary  law  without  having  recourse  to  Par- 
liament. This  power  has  been  frequently  exercised  even 
in  this  generation.  The  Lord  Lieutenant's  official  resi- 
dence is  Dublin  Castle,  but  he  has  also  a  commodious 
viceregal  lodge  in  the  Phcenix  Park.  His  salary  is  $100,- 
ooo  per  annum — just  twice  that  of  our  President — but, 
in  general,  he  spends  much  more  out  of  his  private  for- 
tune, as  he  is,  nearly  always,  chosen  for  his  wealth  as 
much  as  for  his  rank.  When  he  goes  among  the  peo- 
ple, he  is,  almost  invariably,  attended  by  a  strong  cavalry 
escort  and  a  dashing  staff  of  aides-de-camp,  glittering 
in  silver,  steel,  and  gold.  The  military  garrison  of  Dub- 
lin is  strong,  not  often  under  10,000  men,  and  at  the 
Curragh  Camp,  about  twenty  miles  distant,  in  Kildare, 
there  is  a  much  larger  force.  Most  of  the  large  towns 
are  also  heavily  garrisoned.  Thus,  after  an  occupation, 
either  nominal  or  actual,  of  seven  and  one-third  centuries, 
England  still  finds  it  expedient  to  govern  Ireland  as  a 
military  district — a  sad  commentary  on  the  chronic  mis- 
government  of  ages. 

The  People's  History  of  Ireland  19 

The  Original  Inhabitants  of  Ireland 

VAGUE  poetical  tradition  flings  a  mystical  veil  over 
the  origin  of  the  earliest  inhabitants  of  Ireland. 
The  historian,  McGee,  who  would  seem  to  have  made  a 
serious  study  of  the  subject,  says  that  the  first  account 
given  by  the  bards  and  the  professional  story-tellers  at- 
tributes the  settlement  of  the  island  to  Parthalon  of  the 
race  of  Japhet,  who,  with  a  number  of  followers,  reached 
it  by  way  of  the  Mediterranean  and  Atlantic,  "about 
three  hundred  years  after  the  Universal  Deluge."  The 
colonists,  because  of  the  unnatural  crimes  of  their  leader, 
were,  we  are  told,  "cut  off  to  the  last  man  by  a  dreadful 

The  second  colony,  also  a  creature  of  tradition,  was 
said  to  have  been  led  by  a  chief  called  Nemedh  from  the 
shores  of  the  Black  Sea  across  Muscovy  to  the  Baltic, 
and  from  that  sea  they  made  their  way  to  the  Irish 
shore.  In  Ireland,  they  encountered  a  stronger  race,  said 
to  have  been  of  African  origin,  called  Formorians,  with 
whom  they  had  many  severe  battles  and  were  by  them 
finally  defeated  and  either  killed  or  driven  from  the 
country,  to  which  some  of  their  descendants  returned  in 
after  years. 

After  Nemedh  came  the  Firbolgs,  or  Belgse,  under  the 
five  sons  of  their  king,  Dela,  who  divided  the  island  into 
five  parts  and  held  it  undisputedly  until  the  Tuatha  de 

2O  The  People's  History  of  Ireland 

Danaans,  said  to  be  descended  from  Nemedh,  and  having 
magical  power  to  quell  storms,  invaded  the  island,  carry- 
ing with  them  the  "lia  fail,"  or  "Stone  of  Destiny,"  from 
which  Ireland  derived  its  fanciful  title  of  "Innis  fail,"  or 
the  "Island  of  Destiny."  The  Danaans  are  said  to  have 
been  of  the  Greek  family.  In  any  case,  it  is  claimed,  they 
subdued  the  Belgae  and  made  them  their  serfs.  They 
ruled  mightily,  for  a  time,  but,  in  turn,  were  compelled 
to  give  way  to  a  stronger  tide  of  invasion. 

This  was  formed  by  a  people  who  called  themselves, 
according  to  most  Irish  annalists,  Gaels,  from  an  ancient 
ancestor;  Milesians,  from  the  appellation  of  their  king, 
who  ruled  in  distant  Spain,  and  Scoti,  or  Scots,  from 
Scota,  the  warlike  mother  of  King  Milesius.  These 
Milesians  are  said  to  have  come  into  Spain  from  the  re- 
gion of  the  Caucasus,  and  all  agree  that  they  were  formi- 
dable warriors.  Tradition  says  that  Ireland  was  first 
discovered,  as  far  as  the  Milesians  were  concerned,  by 
Ith,  uncle  of  the  Spanish  king,  who,  while  on  a  voyage 
of  exploration,  sighted  the  island,  and,  attracted  by  its 
beauty,  landed,  but  was  attacked  by  the  Danaans  and 
mortally  wounded.  His  followers  carried  him  to  his 
galley,  and  he  died  at  sea,  but  the  body  was  brought 
back  to  Spain.  His  son,  Loci,  who  had  accompanied  Ith, 
summoned  all  the  Milesian  family  to  avenge  their  kins- 
man's death  and  conquer  the  Promised  Island  of  their 
race.  Milesius,  or  Miledh,  had  expired  before  Loci's  re- 
turn, but  his  sons,  Heber  the  Fair,  Amergin,  Heber  the 
Brown,  Colpa,  Ir,  and  Heremon  rallied  to,  the  call  of 
vengeance  and  conquest,  set  sail  for  Ireland,  landed  there, 
and,  in  spite  of  Danaan  witchcraft  and  Firbolgian  valor, 
beat  down  all  opposition  and  became  masters  of  the 

The  People's   History  of  Ireland  21 

beautiful  island.     Thomas  Moore,  in  his  immortal  Irish 
Melodies,  thus  deals  with  this  legendary  event : 

"They  came  from  a  land  beyond  the  sea, 

And  now  o'er  the  Western  main, 
Set  sail  in  their  good  ships  gallantly 

From  the  sunny  land  of  Spain. 
'Oh,  where's  the  isle  we've  seen  in  dreams, 

Our  destined  home  or  grave?' 
Thus  sang  they  as,  by  the  morning's  beami, 

They  swept  the  Atlantic  wave. 

"And,  lo,  where  afar  o'er  ocean  shines 

A  sparkle  of  radiant  green,  • 

As  though  in  that  deep  lay  emerald  mines 
Whose  light  through  the  wave  was  seen. 
'  'Tis  Innisfail !  'tis  Innisfail !' 
Rings  o'er  the  echoing  sea, 
While  bending  to  heaven  the  warriors  hail 
That  home  of  the  brave  and  free. 

"Then  turned  they  unto  the  Eastern  wave, 

Where  now  their  Day-God's  eye 
A  look  of  such  sunny  omen  gave 

As  lighted  up  sea  and  sky, 
Nor  frown  was  seen  through  sky  or  sea, 

Nor  tear  on  leaf  or  sod, 
When  first  on  their  Isle  of  Destiny 

Our  great  forefathers  trod." 

The  migration  of  those  Celto-Iberians  to  Ireland  is 
generally  placed  at  from  1500  to  2000  years  before  the 
birth  of  Christ ;  but  there  is  not  much  certainty  about  the 
date;  it  stands  wholly  on  tradition.  On  one  point,  at 
least,  a  majority  of  Irish  annalists  seem  to  be  agreed — 
namely,  that  the  Milesians  were  of  Celtic  stock  and_  Scyth- 
ian origin,  but  the  route  they  took  from  Scythia  to  Spain, 
as  well  as  the  date  of  their  exodus,  remains  an  unde- 
termined question.  Celtic  characteristics,  both  mental 
and  physical,  are  still  deeply  stamped  on  the  Irish  peo- 

22  The  People's  History  of  Ireland 

pie,  notwithstanding  the  large  admixture  of  the  blood  of 
other  races,  resulting  from  the  numerous  after  invasions, 
both  pagan  and  Christian.  Thomas  Davis,  the  leading 
Irish  national  poet  of  the  middle  of  the  nineteenth  cen- 
tury, sums  up  the  elements  that  constitute  the  present 
Irish  population,  truly  and  tersely,  thus : 

"Here  came  the  brown  Phoenician, 

The  man  of  trade  and  toil; 
Here  came  the  proud  Milesian 

A-hungering  for  spoil ; 
And  the  Firbolg,  and  the  Kymry, 

And  the  hard,  enduring  Dane, 
And  the  iron  lords  of  Normandy, 

With  the  Saxons  in  their  train. 

And,  oh,  it  were  a  gallant  deed 

To  show  before  mankind, 
How  every  race,  and  every  creed, 

Might  be  by  love  combined; 
Might  be  combined,  yet  not  forget 

The  fountains  whence  they  rose, 
As  filled  by  many  a  rivulet 

The  stately  Shannon  flows!" 

And  the  fine  verses  of  the  Irish  poet  may  be  applied 
with  almost  equal  propriety  to  the  cosmopolitan  popu- 
lation of  the  United  States — more  varied  in  race  than 
even  that  of  Ireland.  No  good  citizen  is  less  of  an 
American  simply  because  he  scorns  to  forget,  or  to  al- 
low his  children  to  forget,  "the  fountains  whence  they 
rose."  Anglo-Americans  never  forget  it,  nor  do  Franco- 
Americans,  or  Americans  of  Teutonic  origin ;  or,  in  fact, 
Americans  of  any  noted  race.  Americans  of  Irish  birth 
or  origin  have  quite  as  good  a  right  to  be  proud  of  their 
cradle-land  and  their  ancient  ancestry  as  any  other  ele- 
ment in  this  Republic;  and  the  study  of  impartial  Irish 

The  People's  History  of  Ireland  23 

history  by  pupils  of  all  races  would  do  much  to  soften 
prejudices  and  remove  unpleasant  impressions  that  slan- 
derous, partial  historians  have  been  mainly  instrumental 
in  creating. 

The  language — Gaelic,  or  Erse,  as  it  is  called  in  our 
day — spoken  by  the  Milesian  conquerors  of  Ireland  so 
many  thousand  years  ago,  is  not  yet  nearly  extinct  on 
Irish  soil;  and  it  is  often  used  by  Irish  emigrants  in  va- 
rious parts  of  the  world.  More  than  thirty  centuries 
have  faded  into  eternity  since  first  its  soft,  yet  powerful, 
accents  were  heard  on  Ireland's  shore,  but  still  nearly  a 
million  people  out  of  four  and  a  half  millions  speak  it,  and 
hundreds  of  thousands  have  more  or  less  knowledge  of 
the  venerable  tongue  in  its  written  form.  Great  efforts 
have  been  put  forth  of  late  years  to  promote  its  propaga- 
tion throughout  the  island,  and  it  is  a  labor  of  love  in 
which  all  classes,  creeds,  and  parties  in  Ireland  cordially 
work  together.  It  is  not  intended,  of  course,  to  supplant 
the  English  language,  but  to  render  Gaelic  co-equal  with 
it,  as  in  Wales — a  thoroughly  Celtic  country,  in  which  the 
native  language — Kymric — has  been  wondrously  revived 
during  the  past  and  present  century. 

24  The  People's  History  of  Ireland 


The  Religion  of  Ancient  Ireland — Many  Writers  say  it  was  Worship 
of  the  Sun,  Moon,  and  Elements 

WE  have  mentioned  that  sun-worship  was  one  of  the 
forms  of  ancient  Irish  paganism.  There  is  much 
difference  of  opinion  on  this  point,  and  the  late  learned 
Gaelic  expert,  Professor  Eugene  O'Curry,  holds  that 
there  is  no  reliable  proof  of  either  sun-worship  or  fire- 
worship  in  antique  Irish  annals.  On  the  other  hand, 
we  have  the  excellent  historian,  Abbe  McGeoghegan, 
chaplain  of  the  famous  Franco-Irish  Brigade  of  the  sev- 
enteenth and  eighteenth  centuries,  supported  by  other 
authorities,  instancing  the  sun  as,  at  least,  one  of  the  ob- 
jects of  Irish  pagan  adoration.  Other  writers,  including 
the  painstaking  McGee,  seem  to  accept  the  startling  as- 
sertion that  human  victims  were  occasionally  sacrificed 
on  the  pagan  altars.  This,  however,  is  open  to  doubt, 
as  the  Irish  people,  however  intense  in  their  religious  con- 
victions, have  never  been  deliberately  cruel  or  murder- 
ously fanatical.  We  quote  on  these  sensitive  subjects — 
particularly  sensitive  where  churchmen  are  concerned — 
from  McGeoghegan  and  McGee,  both  strong,  yet  liberal, 
Catholic  historians.  On  page  63  of  his  elaborate  and  ad- 
mirable "History  of  Ireland,"  McGeoghegan  remarks: 
"Great  honors  were  paid  to  the  Druids  and  Bards  among 
the  Milesians,  as  well  as  to  those  among  the  Britons  and 
Gauls.  The  first,  called  Draoi  in  their  language,  per- 
formed the  duties  of  priest,  philosopher,  legislator,  and 

The  People's   History  of  Ireland  25 

judge.  Caesar  has  given,  in  his  Commentaries,  a  well- 
detailed  account  of  the  order,  office,  jurisdiction,  and 
doctrine  of  the  Druids  among  the  Gauls.  As  priests, 
they  regulated  religion  and  its  worship ;  according  to  their 
will,  the  objects  of  it  were  determined,  and  the  'divinity' 
often  changed ;  to  them,  likewise,  the  education  of  youth 
was  intrusted.  Guided  by  the  Druids,  the  Milesians 
generally  adored  Jupiter,  Mars,  Mercury,  Apollo,  the  sun, 
moon,  and  wind;  they  had  also  their  mountain,  forest, 
and  river  gods.  These  divinities  were  common  to  them 
and  to  other  nations  of  the  world.  .  .  .  According  to 
the  Annals  of  Ulster,  cited  by  Ware,  the  antiquarian,  the 
usual  oath  of  Laegore  (Leary)  II,  King  of  Ireland,  in 
the  time  of  St.  Patrick,  was  by  the  sun  and  wind." 

McGee,  writing  of  the  same  subject,  on  pages  5  and  9  of 
his  "Popular  History  of  Ireland,"  says  :  "The  chief  officers 
about  the  kings,  in  the  first  ages,  were  all  filled  by  the 
Druids  or  pagan  priests;  the  Brehons,or  judges, were  usu- 
ally Druids,  as  were  also  the  Bards,  the  historians  of  their 
patrons.  Then  came  the  Physicians,  the  Chiefs  who  paid 
tribute  to  or  received  annual  gifts  from  the  sovereign,  the 
royal  Stewards,  and  the  military  leaders,  or  Champions. 
.  .  .  Their  religion  in  pagan  times  was  what  the  moderns 
call  Druidism,  but  what  they  called  it  themselves  we 
now  know  not.  It  was  probably  the  same  religion  an- 
ciently professed  by  Tyre  and  Sidon,  by  Carthage  and 
her  colonies  in  Spain;  the  same  religion  which  the  Ro- 
mans have  described  as  existing  in  great  part  of  Gaul, 
and,  by  their  accounts,  we  learn  the  awful  fact  that  it 
sanctioned,  nay,  demanded,  human  sacrifices.  From  the 
few  traces  of  its  doctrines  which  Christian  zeal  has  per- 
mitted to  survive  in  the  old  Irish  language,  we  see  that 

26  The  People's   History  of  Ireland 

Belus  or  Crom,  the  god  of  fire,  typified  by  the  sun,  was 
its  chief  divinity — that  two  great  festivals  were  held  in 
his  honor  on  days  answering  to  the  first  of  May  and  last 
of  October.  There  were  also  particular  gods  of  poets, 
champions,  artificers,  and  mariners,  just  as  among  the 
Romans  and  Greeks.  Sacred  groves  were  dedicated  to 
these  gods;  priests  and  priestesses  devoted  their  lives  to 
their  service;  the  arms  of  the  champion  and  the  person 
of  the  king  were  charmed  by  them ;  neither  peace  nor  war 
was  made  without  their  sanction;  their  own  persons  and 
their  pupils  were  held  sacred ;  the  high  place  at  the  king's 
right  hand  and  the  best  fruits  of  the  earth  and  the  water 
were  theirs.  Old  age  revered  them,  women  worshiped 
them,  warriors  paid  court  to  them,  youth  trembled  before 
them,  princes  and  chiefs  regarded  them  as  elder  brethren. 
So  numerous  were  they  in  Erin,  and  so  celebrated,  that 
the  altars  of  Britain  and  Western  Gaul,  left  desolate  by 
the  Roman  legions,  were  often  served  by  hierophants 
from  Ireland,  which,  even  in  those  pagan  days,  was 
known  to  all  the  Druidic  countries  as  the  Sacred  Island." 
The  two  greatest  battles  fought  in  Ireland  during  the 
early  Milesian  period  were  that  near  Tralee,  in  Kerry, 
where  the  Milesian  queen-mother,  Scota,  perished,  and 
the  conflict  at  Taltean,  in  Meath,  where  the  three  Danaan 
kings,  with  their  wives  and  warriors,  were  slain.  After 
these  events,  Heber  and  Heremon  divided  Ireland  be- 
tween them,  but  eventually  quarreled.  A  battle  ensued, 
in  which  Heber  fell,  and  Heremon  was  thereafter,  for 
many  years,  undisputed  monarch  of  all  Ireland.  A  large 
majority  of  the  Celtic  families  of  the  island  are  descended 
from  the  two  royal  brothers  and  bitter  rivals.  Their 
most  famous  Milesian  successors  in  pagan  times  were 

The  People's  History  of  Ireland  27 

Tuathal  (Too-hal),  the  Legitimate,  who  formed  the  royal 
province  of  Meath,  which  existed  for  many  ages,  and  is 
now  represented,  but  on  a  much  smaller  scale,  by  the 
modern  counties  of  Meath  and  Westmeath.  The  prov- 
ince itself  was  dismembered  centuries  ago,  and,  since 
then,  Ireland  has  had  but  four  provincial  divisions  instead 
of  five.  Tuathal  is  also  credited  with  having  originated 
the  Borumah  (Boru)  or  "Cow  Tribute,"  which  he  im- 
posed on  Leinster  as  a  penalty  for  a  crime  committed 
against  two  of  his  daughters  by  the  king  of  that  prov- 
ince. This  tribute  was  foredoomed  to  be  a  curse  to 
the  Irish  nation  at  large,  and  its  forceful  imposition  by 
successive  Ard-Righs  caused  torrents  of  blood  to  be  shed. 
It  was  abolished  toward  the  end  of  the  seventh  century 
by  the  Christian  king .  of  all  Ireland,  Finacta  II,  sur- 
named  the  Hospitable.  "Conn  of  the  Hundred  Battles" 
made  a  record  as  a  ruler  and  a  warrior.  Cormac  Mac- 
Art,  because  of  his  great  wisdom,  was  called  the  Ly- 
curgus  of  Ireland.  Niall  of  the  Nine  Hostages — an- 
cestor of  the  O'Neills — was  a  formidable  monarch,  who 
carried  the  terror  of  his  arms  far  beyond  the  seas  of 
Ireland.  His  nephew,  King  Dathi  (Dahy)  was  also  a 
royal  rover,  and,  while  making  war  in  northern  Italy, 
was  killed  by  a  thunderbolt  in  an  alpine  pass.  Dathi 
was  the  last  king  of  pagan  Ireland,  but  not  the  last  pa- 
gan king.  His  successor,  Leary,  son  of  the  great  Niall, 
received  and  protected  St.  Patrick,  but  never  became 
a  Christian.  After  Leary's  death,  no  pagan  monarch 
sat  on  the  Irish  throne. 

Ancient  Ireland  was  known  by  several  names.  The 
Greeks  called  it  lernis  and  lerni;  said  to  have  meant 
"Sacred  Isle";  the  Romans  Hibernia,  the  derivation  and 

28  The  People's  History  of  Ireland 

meaning,  of  which  are  involved  in  doubt,  and  the  Mile- 
sians Innisfail,  said  to  mean  "the  Island  of  Destiny," 
and  Eire,  or  Erinn,  now  generally  spelled  Erin,  said  to 
Signify  "the  Land  of  the  West."  Many  learned  writers 
dispute  these  translations,  while  others  support  them. 
Within  the  last  six  centuries,  the  island  has  been  known 
as  Ireland,  said  to  signify  West,  or  Western,  land,  but, 
as  the  savants  differ  about  this  translation  also,  we  will 
refrain  from  positive  assertion. 

The  Roman  legions  never  trod  on  Irish  soil,  although 
they  conquered  and  occupied  the  neighboring  island  of 
Britain,  except  on  the  extreme  north,  during  four  hun- 
dred years.  Why  the  Romans  did  not  attempt  the  con- 
quest of  the  island  is  a  mystery.  That  they  were  able 
to  conquer  it  can  hardly  be  doubted.  Strange  as  the 
statement  may  seem  to  some,  it  was  unfortunate  for  Ire- 
land that  the  Romans  did  not  invade  and  subdue  it. 
Had  they  landed  and  prevailed,  their  great  governing 
and  organizing  genius  would  have  destroyed  the  disin- 
tegrating Gaelic  tribal  system,  which  ultimately  proved 
the  curse  and  bane  of  the  Irish  people.  They  would  also 
have  trained  a  nation  naturally  warlike  in  the  art  of 
arms,  in  which  the  Romans  had  no  superiors  and  few 
peers.  With  Roman  training  in  war  and  government, 
the  Irish  would  have  become  invincible  on  their  own 
soil,  after  the  inevitable  withdrawal  of  the  Legions  from 
the  island,  and  the  Anglo-Normans,  centuries  afterward, 
could  not  have  achieved  even  their  partial  subjection. 

The  People's  History  of  Ireland  29 

Advent  of  St.  Patrick — His  Wonderful  Apostolic  Career  in  Ireland 
— A  Captive  and  a  Swineherd  for  Years,  he  Escapes  and  be- 
comes the  Regenerator  of  the  Irish  Nation 

A  MAJORITY  of  learned  historians  claim  that  Chris- 
tianity was  introduced  into  Ireland  by  Catholic 
missionaries  from  the  continent  of  Europe  long  before 
the  advent  of  the  accepted  national  apostle,  St.  Patrick, 
who,  in  his  boyhood,  was  captured  on  the  northern  coast 
of  Ireland,  while  engaged  in  a  predatory  expedition  with 
the  Gauls,  or  some  other  foreign  adventurers.  In  re- 
gard to  this  period  of  the  future  apostle's  career,  we 
are  mainly  guided  by  tradition,  as  the  saint  left  no  me- 
moirs that  would  throw  light  on  his  first  Irish  experience. 
Such  expeditions  were  not  uncommon  in  the  age  in  which 
he  lived,  nor  were  they  for  ages  that  followed.  It  seems 
certain  that  his  captors  offered  him  no  bodily  harm,  and 
he  was  sent  to  herd  swine  amid  the  hills  of  Down.  This 
inspired  boy,  destined  to  be  one  of  the  greatest  among 
men  and  the  saints  of  God,  remained  a  prisoner  in  the 
hands  of  the  pagan  Irish — whom  he  found  to  be  a  gen- 
erous, and  naturally  devotional,  people — for  many  years, 
and  thus  acquired  a  thorough  knowledge  of  their  laws, 
language,  and  character.  Whether  he  was  finally  re- 
leased by  them,  or  managed  to  escape,  is  a  question  of 
some  dispute,  but  it  is  certain  that  he  made  his  way  back 
to  Gaul — now  known  as  France — which,  according  to 
many  accounts,  was  his  native  land,  although  Scotland 

30  The  People's   History  of  Ireland 

claims  him  also,  and  thence  proceeded  to  Rome,  where, 
having  been  ordained  a  priest,  he  obtained  audience  of 
Pope  Celestine,  and  was  by  him  encouraged  and  com- 
missioned to  convert  the  distant  Irish  nation  to  Chris- 
tianity. Filled  with  a  holy  zeal,  Patrick  repaired  as  rap- 
idly as  possible  to  his  field  of  labor,  and,  after  suffering 
many  checks  and  rude  repulses,  at  last,  about  the  year 
432,  found  himself  back  in  Ulster,  where  he  fearlessly 
preached  the  Gospel  to  those  among  whom  he  had  for- 
merly lived  as  a  serf,  with  miraculous  success.  After- 
ward, he  proceeded  to  the  royal  province  of  Meath,  and 
on  the  storied  hill  of  Slane,  "over  against"  that  of  Tara, 
where  the  Irish  monarch,  Leary,  was  holding  court, 
lighted  the  sacred  fire  in  defiance  of  the  edict  of  the 
Druid  high-priest,  who  worshiped  the  fires  of  Baal  and 
forbade  all  others  to  be  kindled,  and,  by  its  quenchless 
flame,  flung  the  sacred  symbol  of  the  Cross  against  the 
midnight  skies  of  pagan  Ireland.  The  pagan  king  sum- 
moned the  daring  apostle  to  his  presence,  and  asked  him 
concerning  his  sacred  mission.  Patrick  explained  it,  and, 
having  obtained  the  royal  consent,  proceeded  to  preach 
with  an  eloquence  that  dazzled  king,  princes,  chiefs,  and 
warriors.  He  even  captivated  some  of  the  Druid  priests, 
but  the  high-priest,  who  dreaded  the  apostle's  power  of 
words,  would  have  stopped  him  at  the  outset,  had  not 
King  Leary  extended  to  him  his  favor  and  protection, 
although  he  himself  remained  a  pagan  to  the  end  of  his 
life.  The  saint,  having  made  a  deep  impression  and  con- 
verted many  of  high  and  low  degree,  took  to  baptizing 
the  multitude,  and  tradition  says  that  the  beautiful  river 
Boyne  was  the  Jordan  of  Ireland's  great  apostle.  It 
was  while  preaching  at  Tara  that  St.  Patrick's  presen- 

The  People's  History  of  Ireland  31 

tation  of  the  mystery  of  the  Blessed  Trinity  was  chal- 
lenged by  the  Druid  priests.  He  immediately  stooped 
to  the  emerald  sod,  plucked  therefrom  a  small  trefoil 
plant  called  the  shamrock — some  say  it  was  the  wood 
sorrel — and,  holding  it  up  before  the  inquisitive  and  in- 
terested pagans,  proved  how  possible  it  was  to  an  infinite 
Power  to  combine  three  in  one  and  one  in  three.  Since 
that  far-distant  day,  the  shamrock  has  been  recognized  as 
the  premier  national  symbol  of  Ireland,  although  the 
"sunburst"  flag,  emblematic  of  the  Druidic  worship,  it 
is  presumed,  precedes  it  in  point  of  antiquity.  The  harp, 
which  is  another  of  Ireland's  symbols,  was  adopted  at  a 
later  period,  in  recognition  of  her  Bardic  genius. 

St.  Patrick,  or  rather  Patricius,  his  Roman  name,  which 
signifies  a  nobleman,  lived  and  labored  for  many,  many 
years  after  he  preached  at  Tara,  and  made  many  circuits 
of  the  island,  adding  tribe  after  tribe  to  the  great  army 
of  his  converts.  So  deep  was  the  impression  he  made  in 
the  country  that  now,  after  the  lapse  of  fourteen  hundred 
years,  which  were  perioded  by  devastating  wars  and  fear- 
ful religious  and  social  persecutions,  his  memory  is  as 
green  and  as  hallowed  as  if  he  had  died  but  yesterday. 
Mountains,  rivers,  lakes,  islands,  and  plains  are  asso- 
ciated with  his  name,  and  thousands  of  churches,  in  Ire- 
land and  throughout  the  world,  are  called  after  him, 
while  millions  of  Ireland's  sons  are  proud  to  answer  to 
the  glorious  name  of  Patrick.  He  died  at  a  patriarchal 
age,  in  the  abbey  of  Saul,  County  Down,  founded  by  him- 
self, A.D.  493,  and  the  anniversary  of  his  departure  from 
this  life  is  celebrated  by  Irishmen  of  all  creeds,  and  in 
every  land,  on  each  i/th  day  of  March,  which  is  called, 
in  his  honor,  St.  Patrick's  Day. 

32  The  People's  History  of  IreJand 

It  is  no  wonder  that  the  Irish  apostle  is  so  well  re- 
membered and  highly  honored.  Since  the  disciples 
preached  by  the  shores  of  the  Galilee,  there  has  been 
no  such  conversion  of  almost  an  entire  people  from  one 
form  of  belief  to  another.  The  Druid  priests,  with  some 
exceptions,  struggled  long  and  bitterly  against  the  rising 
tide  of  Christianity  in  Ireland,  but,  within  the  century 
following  the  death  of  the  great  missionary,  the  Druidic 
rites  disappeared  forever  from  the  land,  and  "Green 
Erin"  became  known  thenceforth,  for  centuries,  as  the 
Island  of  Saints.  Romantic  tradition  attributes  to  St. 
Patrick  the  miracle  of  driving  all  venomous  reptiles  out 
of  Ireland.  It  is  certain,  however,  that  neither  snakes 
nor  toads  exist  upon  her  soil,  although  both  are  found 
in  the  neighboring  island  of  Great  Britain. 

According  to  Nennius,  a  British  writer  quoted  by  Dr. 
Geoffrey  Keating,  St.  Patrick  founded  in  Ireland  "three 
hundred  and  fifty-five  churches,  and  consecrated  an  equal 
number  of  bishops;  and  of  priests,  he  ordained  three 
thousand."  "Let  whomsoever  may  be  surprised,"  says 
Dr.  Keating,  "at  this  great  number  of  bishops  in  Ireland, 
contemporary  with  St.  Patrick,  read  what  St.  Bernard 
says  in  his  Life  of  St.  Malachias,  as  to  the  practice  in 
Ireland  with  regard  to  its  bishops.  He  there  says  that 
'the  bishops  are  changed  and  multiplied  at  the  will  of  the 
metropolitan,  or  archbishop,  so  that  no  single  diocese  is 
trusting  to  one,  but  almost  every  church  has  its  own 
proper  bishop/  '  After  this  statement  of  St.  Bernard  no 
one  can  be  astonished  at  the  number  of  prelates  men- 
tioned above,  for  the  Church  was  then  in  its  young  bloom. 
The  number  of  bishops  there  mentioned  will  appear  less 
wonderful  on  reading  her  domestic  records.  In  them 

The  People's   History   of  Ireland  33 

we  find  that  every  deaconry  in  Ireland  was,  formerly,  pre- 
sided over  by  a  bishop.  Irish  annals  show,  also,  that  St. 
Patrick  consecrated  in  Ireland  two  archbishops,  namely, 
an  archbishop  of  Armagh,  as  Primate  of  Ireland,  and  an 
archbishop  of  Cashel.  After  the  great  apostle's  death, 
a  long  and  illustrious  line  of  native  Irish  missionaries 
took  up  his  sacred  work  and  completed  his  moral  con- 
quest of  the  Irish  nation.  Nor  did  their  labors  termi- 
nate with  the  needs  of  their  own  country.  They  pene- 
trated to  the  remotest  corners  of  Britain,  which  it  is 
said  they  first  converted  to  the  Christian  faith,  and  made 
holy  pilgrimages  to  the  continent  of  Europe,  founding 
in  every  district  they  visited  abbeys,  monasteries,  and  uni- 
versities. Ireland  herself  became  for  a  long  period  the 
centre  of  knowledge  and  piety  in  insular  Europe,  and  the 
ecclesiastical  seminaries  at  Lismore,  Bangor,  Armagh, 
Clonmacnois,  and  other  places  attracted  thousands  of  stu-  £ 
dents,  both  native  and  alien,  to  her  shores.  Gaelic,  the 
most  ancient,  it  is  claimed  by  many  savants,  of  the  Aryan 
tongues,  was  the  national  language,  and  continued  so  to 
be  for  more  than  a  thousand  years  after  the  era  of  Pat- 
rick; but  Latin,  Greek,  and  Hebrew  formed  important 
parts  of  the  collegiate  curriculum,  and  the  first-named 
tongue  was  the  ordinary  means  of  communication  with 
the  learned  men  of  other  countries. 

The  art  of  illuminated  writing  on  vellum  was  carried 
to  unrivaled  perfection  in  the  Irish  colleges  and  monas- 
teries, and  the  manuscripts  of  this  class  preserved  in  Dub- 
lin and  London,  facsimilies  of  which  are  now  placed  in 
many  American  public  libraries,  as  well  as  in  those  of 
European  universities,  bear  witness  to  the  high  state  of 
civilization  attained  by  the  Irish  people  during  the  peace- 

34  The  People's  History  of  Ireland 

ful  and  prosperous  centuries  that  followed  the  coming  of 
St.  Patrick  and  continued  until  the  demoralizing  Danish 
invasion  of  the  eighth  century. 

The  roll  of  the  Irish  saints  of  the  early  Christian  period 
is  a  large  one,  and  contains,  among  others,  the  names  of 
St.  Colomba,  or  Columbkill,  St.  Finn  Barr,  St.  Brendan, 
the  Navigator;  St.  Kieran,  of  Ossory;  St.  Kevin,  of 
Glendalough;  St.  Colman,  of  Dromore;  St.  Canice,  of 
Kilkenny;  St.  Jarlath,  of  Tuam;  St.  Moling,  of  Ferns; 
St.  Comgall,  of  Bangor;  St.  Carthage,  of  Lismore;  St. 
Finian,  of  Moville;  St.  Kiernan,  of  Clonmacnois;  St. 
Laserian,  of  Leighlin;  St.  Fintan;  St.  Gall,  the  Apostle 
of  the  Swiss ;  St.  Columbanus,  the  Apostle  of  Burgundy ; 
St.  Aidan,  Apostle  of  Northumbria;  St.  Adamnan,  Ab- 
bot of  lona;  St.  Rumold,  Apostle  of  Brabant;  St.  Fear- 
gal,  Bishop  of  Salzburg.  These  are  only  a  few  stars  out 
of  the  almost  countless  galaxy  of  the  holy  men^pf  ancient 
Ireland.  Of  her  holy  women,  also  numerous,  the  chief 
were  St.  Bridget,  Brighid,  or  Bride,  of  Kildare;  St. 
Monina,  St.  Ita,  St.  Syra,  St.  Dympna,  and  St.  Samthan. 
The  premier  female  saint  was,  undoubtedly,  St.  Bridget, 
which  signifies,  in  old  Gaelic,  "a  fiery  dart."  Modern 
slang  often  degrades  the  noble  old  name  into  "Biddy." 
Although  thought  to  be  a  purely  Irish  appellation,  it  has 
been  borne  by,  at  least,  two  English  women  of  note.  The 
Lady  Bridget  Plantagenet,  youngest  daughter  of  King 
Edward  IV,  and  "Mistress,"  or  Miss,  Bridget  Cromwell, 
daughter  of  the  Lord  Protector  of  the  English  Common- 
wealth. Lady  Plantagenet,  who,  in  addition  to  being  the 
daughter  of  a  monarch,  was  the  sister  of  Edward  V  and 
Elizabeth,  Queen  of  Henry  VII ;  the  niece  of  Richard  III 
and  the  aunt  of  Henry  VIII,  died  a  nun  in  the  convent  of 

The  People's  History  of  Ireland  35 

Dartford,  England,  long  after  the  House  of  York  had 
ceased  to  reign.  "Mistress"  Cromwell  became  the  wife 
of  one  of  her  father's  ablest  partisans,  and  lived  to  see  the 
end  of  the  Protectorate,  from  which  her  brother,  Richard, 
was  deposed,  and  the  restoration  of  the  House  of  Stuart 
to  the  English  throne. 


Ancient  Laws  and  Government  of  the  Irish 

IRELAND,  ages  before  she  was  Christianized,  pos- 
*  sessed  a  legal  code  of  great  merit,  generally  called  the 
Brehon  Laws.  These  remained  more  or  less  in  force, 
from  the  earliest  historic  period  down  to  the  days  of 
James  I,  who,  because  of  the  wars  and  conquests  of  the 
armies  of  his  predecessor,  Queen  Elizabeth,  was  the  first 
of  the  English  monarchs  that  succeeded  in  thoroughly 
breaking  up  the  old  system  of  Irish  law  and  government. 
The  Brehon  Laws  were  of  Irish  origin  and  contained 
many  provisions  more  in  harmony  with  humanity  and 
wisdom  than  some  of  the  boasted  English  enactments. 
In  common  with  many  other  ancient  countries  of  Europe, 
Ireland  did  not  impose  the  death  penalty  on  a  homicide, 
but,  instead,  collected  an  eric,  or  blood  fine,  from  him 
and  his  relatives,  for  the  benefit  of  the  family  of  the  man 
slain  by  his  hand.  The  best  and  briefest  work  on  these 
interesting  laws,  which  need  more  attention  than  they 
can  be  given  in  a  general  history,  was  recently  issued  by 
an  English  publishing  house  for  the  industrious  author, 
Lawrence  Ginnell,  lawyer,  of  the  Middle  Temple,  Lon- 
don. In  writing  of  the  ancient  form  of  Irish  monarchy, 

36  The  People's  History  of  Ireland 

which,  as  we  have  already  noted,  was  elective,  Mr.  Gin- 
nell  says :  "The  Irish  always  had  a  man,  not  an  assembly, 
at  the  head  of  the  state,  and  the  system  of  electing  a 
Tanist  (heir-apparent)  while  the  holder  of  the  office  was 
living,  in  addition  to  its  making  for  peace  on  the  demise 
of  the  Crown,  made  an  interregnum  of  more  rare  oc- 
currence than  in  countries  which  had  not  provided  a 
Tanist  in  advance/'  The  same  author  divides  the  classes 
of  Irish  kings  thus:  The  lowest  was  the  Righ-Inagh 
(Ree-eena)  or  king  of  one  district,  the  people  of  which 
formed  an  organic  state.  Sometimes  two  or  three  of 
these,  nearly  related  and  having  mutual  interests,  did  not 
hesitate  to  combine  for  the  public  good  under  one  king. 
The  next  in  rank  was  the  Righ-Mor-Tuah  (Ree-More- 
Tooa),  who  ruled  over  a  number  of  districts,  and  often 
had  sub-kings  under  him.  The  next  class  of  monarch 
was  the  Righ-Cuicidh  (Ree-Cooga),  a  title  which  signi- 
fied that  he  had  five  of  the  preceding  class  within  his 
jurisdiction.  This  was  the  rank  of  a  provincial  king. 
And,  highest  of  all,  as  his  title  implied,  was  the  Ard- 
Righ  (Ard-Ree),  meaning  High,  or  Over,  King,  who 
had  his  seat  of  government  for  many  ages  at  the  national 
palace  and  capital,  established  on  the  "royal  hill  of 
Tara"  in  Meath.  The  king  of  each  district  owed  al- 
legiance and  tribute  to  the  Righ-Mor-Tuah.  The  latter 
owed  allegiance  and  tribute  to  the  Righ-Cuicidh;  and 
he,  in  turn,  owed  allegiance  and  tribute  to  the  Ard-Righ. 

Although  the  ancient  Irish  monarchy  was,  except  where 
forceful  usurpation  occasionally  prevailed,  elective,  the 
candidate  for  the  Tanistry,  or  heir-apparency,  was  re- 
quired to  be  of  the  "blood  royal."  Minors  were  seldom 
or  never  recognized  as  being  eligible.  At  rare  intervals 

The  People's  History  of  Ireland  37 

one  might  win  popular  recognition  by  displaying  a  pre- 
cocious wisdom,  or  prowess.  The  ablest  and  bravest  male 
member  of  the  reigning  family  was  almost  invariably 
chosen  Ard-Righ,  and  the  provincial  and  district  rulers 
were  chosen  on  the  same  principle.  Meath  was  the  High 
King's  own  province,  and  the  lesser  monarchs  swayed 
over  Ulster,  Munster,  Leinster,  and  Connaught,  subsidiary 
to,  yet  in  a  measure  independent  of,  the  Ard-Righ,  who 
held  his  court  at  Tara  until  A.D.  554,  when  St.  Ruadan, 
because  of  sacrilege  committed  by  the  reigning  monarch, 
Dermid,  in  dragging  a  prisoner  from  the  saint's  own 
sanctuary  and  killing  him,  pronounced  a  malediction  on 
the  royal  hill  and  palaces.  Thenceforth  Tara  ceased  to 
be  the  residence  of  the  Ard-Righs  of  Ireland,  and  total 
ruin  speedily  fell  upon  it.  All  that  now  remains  of  its 
legendary  splendor  is  comprised  in  the  fast  vanishing 
mounds  on  which  once  stood  the  palaces,  assembly  halls, 
and  other  public  buildings  of  Ireland's  ancient  monarchs. 
No  man  or  woman  of  Irish  race  can  gaze  unmoved  on 
the  venerable  eminence,  rising  proudly  still  above  the  rich 
plains  of  Meath,  which  has  beh'eld  so  many  fast  succeed- 
ing vicissitudes  of  a  nation's  rise,  agony,  and  fall. 

"No  more  to  chiefs  and  ladies  bright 

The  harp  of  Tara  swells ; 
The  chord  alone  which  breaks  at  night 

Its  tale  of  ruin  tells : 
Thus,  Freedom  now  so  seldom  wakes, 

The  only  throb  she  gives 
Is  when  some  heart  indignant  breaks 

To  show  that  still  she  lives." 

The  most  famous  and  powerful  of  the  royal  families 
of  Ireland  were  the  O'Neills  of  Ulster,  who  enjoyed  the 
High  Kingship  longest  of  all ;  the  O'Briens  of  Munster, 

38  The  People's   History  of  Ireland 

the  O'Conors  of  Connaught,  the  MacMurroughs  of  Lein- 
ster,  and  the  McLaughlins  of  Meath.  Their  descendants 
are  simply  legion,  for  all  the  Irish  clansmen  were  kin- 
dred to  their  kings  and  chiefs,  and  assumed,  as  was  their 
blood  right,  their  surnames  when  these  came  into  fash- 
ion. When  the  Irish  septs,  about  the  end  of  the  tenth 
century,  by  the  direction  of  King  Brian  the  Great, 
chose  their  family  designations,  the  prefix  "Mac"  was 
taken  as  indicating  the  son,  or  some  immediate  de- 
scendant of  the  monarch,  prince,  or  chief  of  that  par- 
ticular tribe,  while  that  of  "Ui"  or  "O,"  as  it  is  now 
universally  written  in  English,  signified  a  grandson  or 
some  more  remote  kinsman  of  the  original  founder  of 
the  name.  Thus,  the  families  bearing  the  prefix  "Mac" 
generally  hold  that  they  descend  from  the  elder  lines  of 
the  royal  family,  or  the  leading  chiefs,  whil*  those  who 
bear  the  "O"  descend  from  the  younger  lines.  And  so 
it  has  come  to  be  a  national  proverb,  founded  on  more 
than  mere  fancy,  that  every  Irishman  is  the  descendant 
of  a  king.  The  Irish  prefixes,  however,  are  a  genuine 
certificate  of  nobility,  if  by  that  term  is  meant  long  de- 
scent. An  old  rhyme  puts  the  matter  in  homely  but  log- 
ical manner  thus : 

"By  'Mac'  and  'O'  you'll  surely  know 

True  Irishmen,  they  say; 
But  if  they  lack  both  'O'  and  'Mac' 
No  Irishmen  are  they." 

Many  families  of  Irish  origin  in  this  and  other 
countries  have  foolishly  dropped  the  Celtic  prefixes 
from  their  names,  and  thus  destroyed  their  best  title 
to  respectability.  They  should  remember  that  "Mac" 
and  "O"  indicate  a  longer  and  nobler  pedigree  than 

The  People's  History  of  Ireland  39 

either  Capet,  Plantagenet,  Tudor,  Stuart,  Guelph,  or 
Wettin — all  distinguished  enough  in  their  way,  but  quite 
modern  when  compared  with  the  Gaelic  patronymics. 
The  Scotch  Highlanders,  who  are  of  the  junior  branch 
of  the  Irish  race,  according  to  the  most  reliable  histo- 
rians, use  the  "Mac"  very  generally,  while  the  "O"  is 
rarely  found  among  them.  On  this  account,  as  well  as 
others,  some  of  the  Scottish  savants  have  attempted  to 
argue  that  Ireland  was  originally  peopled  by  immigrants 
from  Scotland,  but  this  argument  is  fallacious  on  its  face, 
because  Ireland  was  known  to  the  ancients  as  "Scotia 
Major"  —  greater  or  older  Scotland;  while  the  latter 
country  was  designated  "Scotia  Minor""  —  smaller  or 
younger  Scotland.  The  Irish  and  Scotch  were  alike  called 
"Scots"  until  long  after  the  time  of  St.  Patrick,  and  the 
kindred  nations  were  close  friends  and  helpful  allies, 
from  the  earliest  historical  period  down  to  the  reign  of 
Edward  III  of  England,  and  even  later.  It  was  in  Ire- 
land that  Robert  Bruce,  his  brother  Edward — afterward 
elected  and  crowned  king  of  that  country — and  their 
few  faithful  retainers  sought  and  found  friends  and  a 
refuge  just  before  their  final  great  victory  at  Bannock- 
burn,  A.D.  1314.  Sir  Walter  Scott  mentions  this  fact 
in  his  graphic  "Tales  of  a  Grandfather,"  and  also  in  his 
stirring  poem,  "The  Lord  of  the  Isles."  Keating  quotes 
Bede,  who  lived  about  700  hundred  years  after  Christ, 
as  saying  in  his  "History  of  the  Saxons,"  "Hibernia  is 
the  proper  fatherland  of  the  Scoti"  (Scots).  So  also 
Calgravius,  another  ancient  historian,  who,  in  writing 
of  St.  Columba,  says:  "Hibernia  (Ireland)  was  an- 
ciently called  Scotia,  and  from  it  sprang,  and  emi- 
grated, the  nation  of  the  Scoti,  which  inhabits  the  part 

Ireland — ^  Vol.  L 

4O  The  People's  History  of  Ireland 

of  Albania  (Scotland)  that  lies  nearest  to  Great  Britain 
(meaning  England),  and  that  has  been  since  called 
Scotia  from  the  fact." 

"Marianus  Scotus,  an  Alban  (i.e.  Scotch)  writer," 
says  Keating,  "bears  similar  testimony  in  writing  on  the 
subject  of  St.  Kilian.  Here  are  his  words :  'Although 
the  part  of  Britannia  which  borders  upon  Anglia  (Eng- 
land) and  stretches  toward  the  north,  is  at  present  dis- 
tinctively called  Scotia  (Scotland),  nevertheless,  the  Ven- 
erable Bede  (already  quoted)  shows  that  Hibernia  was 
formerly  known  by  that  name ;  for  he  informs  us  that  the 
nation  of  the  Picti  (Picts)  arrived  in  Hibernia  from 
Scythia,  and  that  they  found  there  the  nation  of  the 

"Serapus,  in  certain  remarks  which  he  makes  in  writ- 
ing about  St.  Bonifacius,  is  in  perfect  accord  with  the 
above  cited  writers.  He  says  that  'Hibernia,  likewise, 
claimed  Scotia  as  one  of  her  names,  but,  however,  be- 
cause a  certain  part  of  the  Scotic  nation  emigrated  from 
this  same  Hibernia  and  settled  in  those  parts  of  Britan- 
nia in  which  the  Picti  were  then  dwelling,  and  was  there 
called  the  nation  of  the  Dal-Riada,  from  the  name  of 
its  leader,  as  the  Venerable  Bede  relates,  and  because 
this  tribe  afterward  drove  the  Picti  from  their  homes, 
and  seized  upon  the  entire  northern  region  for  themselves, 
and  gave  it  the  ancient  name  of  their  own  race,  so  that 
the  nation  might  remain  undivided;  in  this  manner  has 
the  name  of  Scotia  become  ambiguous — one,  the  elder, 
and  proper,  Scotia  being  in  Hibernia,  while  the  other, 
the  more  recent,  lies  in  the  northern  part  of  Britannia.' 
From  the  words  of  the  author  I  draw  these  conclusions : 
(i)  that  the  Irish  were,  in  strict  truth,  the  real  Scoti; 

/row  60.UOO  to  100,000  • 
/row  10,000  to  50,000    ® 

Wore  10,000 o 

Counti  Tomit  underlined 
t/iwm  (/,  at 

Cal^FASTNET  RK.  \   *  » 


••         --     ?  '     ^  V^ 

THE  "MAiDENS       ''        Siranmert) 

EVx)  T>3L'Evei«AWA 
.       OaiSifiLiS'        firrlcl 

wejcford  Harbor 

JL  &*te4e    ***°'"l? 



»•      OUI«,H-.^.Q...J.  :  

™                                         ••         C> 

X  ^v 


c??--           g  P 


St.Davids  H 
St.Brides  B 


"•"W°«  so, 

•-..?*  Jf,-/ 

of        Greenwict 

The  People's  History  of  Ireland  41 

(2)  that  the  Dal-Riada  was  the  first  race,  dwelling  in 
Scotland,  to  which  the  name  of  Scoti  was  applied;  (3) 
that  Ireland  was  the  true,  ancient  Scotia,  and  that  Alba 
(Scotland)  was  the  New  Scotia,  and  also  that  it  was  the 
Kinescuit,  or  Tribe  of  Scot,  that  first  called  it  Scotia." 

There  were  numerous  after  invasions  of  Alba  by  the 
Milesian  Irish,  who  established  new  colonies — the  most 
formidable  of  which  was  that  founded  by  the  brothers 
Fergus,  Andgus,  and  Lome  in  the  beginning  of  the  sixth 
century.  For  nearly  a  hundred  years  this  colony  paid 
tribute  to  Ireland,  but,  in  574,  the  Scotch  King  Aedan, 
who  was  brother  to  the  King  of  Leinster,  declined  to 
pay  further  tribute.  A  conference  of  the  monarchs  was 
held — all  being  close  kindred  of  the  Hy-Nial  race — and 
St.  Columba,  their  immortal  cousin,  came  from  his  monas- 
tery in  lona  to  take  counsel  with  them.  The  result  was 
a  wise  and  generous  abrogation  of  the  tribute  by  the  Irish 
nation,  and  Scotland  became  independent,  but  remained, 
for  long  centuries,  as  before  stated,  the  cordial  friend  and 
ally  of  her  sister  country.  The  Scots  then  became  para- 
mount in  Scotia  Minor,  and  brought  under  subjection 
all  the  tribes  who  were  hostile  to  the  royal  line,  founded 
by  Fergus,  from  whom  descended  the  Stuarts  and  other 
monarchical  houses  of  Great  Britain.  This  convention 
also  lessened  the  number  and  power  of  the  Bards,  who 
had  become  arrogant  and  exacting  in  their  demands  upon 
the  kings,  princes,  and  chiefs,  who  feared  their  sarcastic 
talent,  and  paid  exorbitant  levies,  rather  than  endure 
their  abuse  and  ridicule. 

After  the  abandonment  of  Tara  as  a  royal  residence, 
in  the  sixth  century,  the  High  Kings  held  court  at  Taill- 
tenn,  now  Telltown,  and  Tlachtga,  now  the  Hill  of  Ward, 

42  The  People's  History  of  Ireland 

in  Meath,  and  at  Ushnagh  (Usna)  in  Westmeath.  The 
Ulster  monarchs  had  seats  at  Emain,  near  Armagh 
(Ar'-ma')  Greenan-Ely,  on  the  hill  of  Ailech,  in  Don- 
egal; and  at  Dun-Kiltair — still  a  striking  ruin — near 
Downpatrick.  The  kings  of  Leinster  had  their  palaces 
at  Naas  in  Kildare,  Dunlavin  in  Wicklow,  Kells  in 
Meath,  and  Dinnree,  near  Leighlin  Bridge,  in  Gather- 
lough  (Carlow).  The  Munster  rulers  held  high  carni- 
val, for  ages,  at  Cashel  of  the  Kings  and  Caher,  in  Tip- 
perary;  at  Bruree  and  Treda-na-Rhee — still  a  most  pic- 
turesque mound,  showing  the  ancient  Celtic  method  of 
fortification,  in  Limerick;  and  at  Kinkora,  situated  on 
the  right  bank  of  the  Shannon,  in  Clare.  The  O' Con- 
ors, kings  of  Connaught,  had  royal  residences  at  Rath- 
croaghan  (Crohan)  and  Ballintober — the  latter  founded 
by  "Cathal  Mor  of  the  Wine  Red  Hand,"  in  the  thir- 
teenth century — in  the  present  county  of  Roscommon; 
and  at  Athunree,  or  Athenry — Anglice,  "the  Ford  of  the 
Kings,"  in  Galway.  Ballintober,  according  to  tradition, 
was  the  finest  royal  residence  in  all  Ireland,  and  the  re- 
mains of  Cathal  Mor's  castle  are  still  pointed  out  in  the 
vicinity  of  the  town.  It  was  to  it  Clarence  Mangan  al- 
luded in  his  "Vision  of  Connaught  in  the  Thirteenth 
Century,"  thus : 

"Then  saw  I  thrones  and  circling  fires, 

And  a  dome  rose  near  me  as  by  a  spell, 
Whence  flowed  the  tone  of  silver  lyres 
And  many  voices  in  wreathed  swell. 
And  their  thrilling  chime 

Fell  on  mine  ears 

Like  the  heavenly  hymn  of  an  angel  band — 
'It  is  now  the  time 

We  are  in  the  years 
Of  Cathal  Mor  of  the  Wine  Red  Hand." 

The  People's  History  of  Ireland  43 

One  of  the  great  institutions  of  ancient  Ireland, 
vouched  for  by  Dr.  Geoffrey  Keating  and  many  other 
learned  historians,  was  the  Fiann,  or  National  Guard,  of 
the  country,  first  commanded  by  Finn  MacCumhail 
(MacCool),  "the  Irish  Cid"  of  pagan  times.  This  force 
was  popular  and  lived  by  hunting,  when  not  actively 
engaged  in  warfare,  to  preserve  internal  government,  or 
repel  foreign  aggression.  When  so  engaged,  they  were 
quartered  upon  and  supported  by  the  people  of  the  locali- 
ties in  which  they  rendered  service.  Their  organization 
was  simple,  and  bore  much  resemblance  to  the  regimental 
and  company  formations  of  the  present  day.  Their 
drill  and  discipline  were  excessively  severe.  Four  in- 
junctions were  laid  upon  every  person  who  entered  this 
military  order.  The  first  was  "to  receive  no  portion 
with  a  wife,  but  to  choose  her  for  good  manners  and 
virtue."  The  second  was  "never  to  offer  violence  to  any 
woman."  The  third  enjoined  on  the  member  "never  to 
give  a  refusal  to  any  mortal  for  anything  of  which  one 
was  possessed."  The  fourth  was  "that  no  single  war- 
rior of  their  body  should  ever  flee  before  nine  cham- 

Other  stipulations  were  of  a  more  drastic  character. 
No  member  of  the  Fiann  could  allow  his  blood,  if  shed, 
to  be  avenged  by  any  other  person  than  himself,  if  he 
should  survive  to  avenge;  and  his  father,  mother,  rela- 
tives, and  tribe  had  to  renounce  all  claim  for  compensa- 
tion for  his  death. 

No  member  could  be  admitted  until  he  became  a  Bard 
and  had  mastered  the  Twelve  Books  of  Poesy. 

No  man  could  be  allowed  into  the  Fiann  until  a  pit 
or  trench  deep  enough  to  reach  to  his  knees  had  been 

44  The  People's  History  of  Ireland 

dug  in  the  earth,  and  he  had  been  placed  therein,  armed 
with  his  shield,  and  holding  in  his  hand  a  hazel  staff  of 
the  length  of  a  warrior's  arm.  Nine  warriors,  armed 
with  nine  javelins,  were  then  set  opposite  him,  at  the 
distance  of  nine  ridges;  these  had  to  cast  their  nine 
weapons  at  him  all  at  once,  and  then,  if  he  chanced  to 
receive  a  single  wound,  in  spite  of  his  shield  and  staff, 
he  was  not  admitted  to  the  Order. 

Another  rule  was  that  the  candidate  must  run  through 
a  wood,  at  full  speed,  with  his  hair  plaited,  and  with 
only  the  grace  of  a  single  tree  between  him  and  detailed 
pursuers.  If  they  came  up  with  him,  or  wounded  him, 
he  was  rejected. 

He  was  also  rejected  "if  his  arms  trembled  in  his 
hands";  or  if,  in  running  through  the  wood,  "a  single 
braid  of  his  hair  had  been  loosened  out  of  its  plait." 

He  was  not  admitted  if,  in  his  flight,  his  foot  had 
broken  a  single  withered  branch.  Neither  could  he  pass 
muster  "unless  he  could  jump  over  a  branch  of  ^  tree 
as  high  as  his  forehead,  and  could  stoop  under  one  as 
low  as  his  knee,  through  the  agility  of  his  body."  He 
was  rejected,  also,  if  he  failed  "to  pluck  a  thorn  out  of 
his  heel  with  his  hand  without  stopping  in  his  course." 
Each  member,  before  being  admitted  to  the  Order,  was 
obliged  to  swear  fidelity  and  homage  to  the  Righ-Fein- 
nedh  (Ree-Feena)  or  king  of  the  Fenians,  which  is  the 
English  translation  of  the  title. 

There  were  also  other  military  bodies — not  forgetting 
the  more  ancient  "Red  Branch  Knights,"  whom  Moore 
has  immortalized  in  one  of  his  finest  lyrics,  but  the  Fe- 
nians and  their  redoubtable  chief  hold  the  foremost  place 
of  fame  in  Irish  national  annals. 

The  People's   History  of  Ireland  45 

It  would  seem  that  a  kind  of  loose  federal  compact 
existed,  from  time  to  time,  between  the  High  King  and 
the  other  monarchs,  but,  unfortunately,  there  does  not 
appear  to  have  been  a  very  strong  or  permanent  bond 
of  union,  and  this  fatal  defect  in  the  Irish  Constitution 
of  pre-Norman  times  led  to  innumerable  disputes  about 
succession  to  the  Ard-Righship  and  endless  civil  wars, 
which  eventually  wrecked  the  national  strength  and  made 
the  country  the  comparatively  easy  prey  of  adventurous 
and  ambitious  foreigners.  The  monarchical  system  was, 
in  itself,  faulty.  Where  a  monarchy  exists  at  all,  the  suc- 
cession should  be  so  regulated  that  the  lineal  heir,  ac- 
cording to  primogeniture,  whether  a  minor  or  not, 
must  succeed  to  the  throne,  except  when  the  succession 
is,  for  some  good  and  sufficient  reason,  set  aside  by  the 
legislative  body  of  the  nation.  This  was  done  in  Eng- 
land in  the  case  of  Henry  IV,  who,  with  the  consent 
of  Parliament,  usurped  the  crown  of  Richard  II;  and 
also  in  the  case  of  William  and  Mary,  who  were  selected 
by  the  British  Parliament  of  their  day  to  supplant  James 
II,  the  father-in-law  and  uncle  of  the  former  and  father 
of  the  latter.  The  act  of  settlement  and  succession, 
passed  in  1701,  ignored  the  male  line  of  the  Stuarts, 
chiefly  because  it  was  Catholic,  and  placed  the  succession 
to  the  throne,  failing  issue  of  William  and  Mary  and 
Anne,  another  daughter  of  the  deposed  King  James,  in 
a  younger,  Protestant  branch  of  the  female  line  of 
Stuart — the  House  of  Hanover-Brunswick — which  now 
wears  the  British  crown.  But,  in  general,  as  far  as  the 
question  of  monarchy  is  concerned,  the  direct  system  of 
succession  has  proven  most  satisfactory,  and  has  fre- 
quently prevented  confusion  of  title  and  consequent  civil 

46  The  People's  History  of  Ireland 

war.  We  can  recall  only  one  highly  important  occasion 
when  it  provoked  that  evil — the  sanguinary  thirty  years' 
feud  between  the  kindred  royal  English,  or,  rather,  Nor- 
man-French, Houses  of  York  and  Lancaster.  Even  in 
that  case  the  quarrel  arose  from  the  original  bad  title  of 
Henry  IV,  who  was  far  from  being  the  lineal  heir  to  the 
throne.  Our  own  democratic  system  of  choosing  a  chief 
ruler  is,  no  doubt,  best  of  all.  We  elect  from  the  body 
of  the  people  a  President  whose  term  of  office  is  four 
years.  In  some  respects  he  has  more  executive  power 
than  most  hereditary  monarchs,  but  if  at  the  end  of  his 
official  term  he  fails  to  suit  a  majority  of  the  delegates 
of  his  party  to  the  National  Convention,  some  other 
member  of  it  is  nominated  in  his  stead.  The  opposition 
party  also  nominates  a  candidate,  and  very  often  suc- 
ceeds in  defeating  the  standard-bearer  of  the  party  in 
power.  Sometimes  there  are  three  or  more  Presidential 
candidates  in  the  field,  as  was  the  case  in  1860,  when 
Abraham  Lincoln  was  elected.  Succession  to  the  Presi- 
dency, therefore,  is  not  confined  to  any  one  family,  or 
its  branches,  in  a  republic,  and  the  office  of  President  of 
the  United  States  may  be  competed  for  by  any  eligible 
male  citizen  who  can  control  his  party  nomination.  The 
example  of  Washington,  who  refused  a  third  term,  has 
become  an  unwritten  law  in  America,  and  it  defeated 
General  Grant's  aspiration  to  succeed  Mr.  Hayes  in  the 
Republican  National  Convention  of  1880.  In  France, 
under  Napoleon,  every  French  soldier  was  supposed  to 
carry  a  marshal's  baton  in  his  knapsack.  In  the  United 
States,  every  native-born  schoolboy  carries  the  Presi- 
dential portfolio  in  his  satchel. 

The  People's  History  of  Ireland  47 


Period  of  Danish  Invasion 

HE  Irish  people,  having  settled  down  to  the  Chris- 
1  tian  form  of  worship,  were  enjoying  "life,  liberty, 
and  the  pursuit  of  happiness,"  building  churches  and  col- 
leges, and  sending  out  a  stream  of  saints  and  scholars 
to  the  rest  of  Europe,  when,  about  the  end  of  the 
eighth  century,  the  restless  Norsemen,  universally  called 
"Danes"  in  Ireland,  swept  down  in  their  galleys  by 
thousands  on  the  Irish  coasts,  and,  after  many  fierce  con- 
flicts, succeeded  in  establishing  colonies  at  the  mouths 
of  many  of  the  great  rivers  of  the  island.  There  they 
built  fortified  towns,  from  which  they  were  able  to  sally 
forth  by  sea  or  land  to  change  their  base  of  operations 
and  establish  new  conquests.  Dublin  at  the  mouth  of 
the  Liffey,  Drogheda  at  the  mouth  of  the  Boyne,  Wex- 
ford  at  the  mouth  of  the  Slaney,  Waterford  at  the 
mouth  of  the  Suir,  and  Limerick  at  the  estuary  of  the 
Shannon,  are  all  cities  founded  by  the  Danes,  who  were 
natural  traders  and  fierce  warriors.  They  did  not  con- 
fine their  attentions  exclusively  to  Ireland,  but,  about  the 
same  period,  conquered  Saxon  England,  ruling  com- 
pletely over  it;  and  they  established  a  strong  colony  on 
the  north  coast  of  France,  which  is  called  Normandy  to 
this  day,  and  from  which  sprang,  by  a  combination  of 
Scandian  with  Gallic  blood,  the  greatest  race  of  warriors 
— the  Romans,  perhaps,  excepted — the  world  has  known. 
The  native  Irish  met  their  fierce  invaders  with  daunt- 

48  The  People's  History  of  Ireland 

less  courage,  but  they  had  been  so  long  at  peace  that 
they  were  no  longer  expert  in  the  use  of  arms,  and  the 
Danes  were  all-powerful  on  the  seas.  Those  Norsemen 
were  pagans,  and  had  no  respect  for  revealed  religion, 
literature,  works  of  art,  architecture,  or,  in  short,  any- 
thing except  land-grabbing  and  plunder.  It  must  be  re- 
membered that  most  of  northern  Europe,  at  the  period 
written  of,  was  in  a  benighted  state,  and  that  Great  Brit- 
ain itself  was  barely  emerging  from  the  intellectual  and 
spiritual  gloom  of  the  Dark  Ages.  The  Norse  invaders, 
whenever  successful  in  their  enterprises  against  the  Irish 
chiefs,  invariably  demolished  the  churches  and  colleges, 
murdered  the  priests,  monks,  and  nuns — often,  however, 
carrying  the  latter  into  captivity — and  burned  many  of 
the  priceless  manuscripts,  the  pride  and  the  glory  of  the 
illustrious  scholarship  of  ancient  Ireland.  In  the  middle 
portion  of  the  ninth  century — about  840 — when  Nial  III 
was  Ard-Righ  of  Ireland,  came  the  fierce  Dane  Turgesius, 
at  the  head  of  an  immense  fleet  and  army.  He  at  once 
proceeded  to  ravage  the  exposed  portions  of  the  coast, 
and  then  forced  his  way  inland,  laying  the  country  under 
tribute  of  all  kinds  as  he  advanced.  He  made  prisoners 
of  Irish  virgins  and  married  them,  by  main  force,  to  his 
barbarous  chiefs.  He  even  occupied  the  celebrated  mon- 
astery of  Clonmacnois  and  its  university  as  a  headquar- 
ters, converted  the  great  altar  into  a  throne,  and  issued 
his  murderous  edicts  from  that  holy  spot.  Clonmacnois, 
translated  into  English,  means  "the  Retreat  of  the  Sons 
of  the  Noble,"  and  was  the  Alma  Mater  of  the  princes 
and  nobility  of  Ireland.  This  crowning  outrage,  coupled 
with  insults  offered  to  Irish  ladies,  finally  aroused  the 
spirit  of  burning  vengeance  in  the  breasts  of  the  Irish 

The  People's  History  of  Ireland  49 

people.  Tradition  says  that  thirty  handsome  young  men, 
disguised  as  maidens,  attended  a  feast  given  at  Clon- 
macnois  by  Turgesius  and  his  chiefs.  When  the  barba- 
rians were  sated  and  had  fallen  into  a  drunken  stupor, 
the  youths  rose  upon  and  slew  them  all.  The  body  of 
Turgesius,  with  a  millstone  tied  around  the  neck,  was 
thrown  into  a  neighboring  lake.  Then  the  nation,  under 
the  brave  Nial  III,  rose  and  drove  the  Norsemen  back 
to  the  seacoast,  where  they  rallied.  Another  raid  on  the 
interior  of  the  island  was  attempted,  but  repelled.  Sad 
to  relate,  the  gallant  King  Nial,  while  attempting  to  save 
the  life  of  a  retainer  who  fell  into  the  Callan  River,  was 
himself  drowned,  to  the  great  grief  of  all  Ireland.  The 
name  of  the  river  in  which  he  perished  was  changed  to 
the  Ownarigh  (Ownaree)  or  King's  River — a  designa- 
tion which,  after  the  lapse  of  ages,  it  still  retains. 

A  period  of  comparative  repose  followed.  Many  of 
the  Danes  became  converts  to  Christian  doctrine,  and 
there  was,  probably,  more  or  less  of  intermarriage  among 
the  higher  classes  of  the  rival  races.  But  the  Norsemen 
retained  much  of  their  old-time  ferocity,  and,  occasion- 
ally, the  ancient  struggle  for  supremacy  was  renewed, 
with  varying  success.  It  is  humiliating  for  an  Irish 
writer  to  be  obliged  to  admit  that  some  of  the  Irish 
Christian  princes,  jealous  of  the  incumbent  Ard-Righ,  did 
not  remain  faithful  to  their  country,  and  actually  allied 
themselves  with  the  Danes,  participating  in  their  barbar- 
ous acts.  This  explains  why,  for  a  period  of  about  three 
hundred  years,  in  spite  of  repeated  Irish  victories,  the 
Norsemen  were  able  to  hold  for  themselves  a  large  por- 
tion of  Ireland,  especially  the  districts  lying  close  to  thf 
sea,  where  they  had  no  difficulty  in  receiving  supplies 

50  The  People's  History  of  Ireland 

and  reinforcements  from  Denmark  and  Norway.  Many 
of  those  old  Irish  princes  were,  indeed,  conscienceless 
traitors,  but  the  people,  as  a  whole,  never  abandoned  the 
national  cause. 

The  feuds  of  the  Munster  chiefs,  toward  the  end  of 
the  tenth  century,  had  the  unlocked  for  effect  of  bringing 
to  the  front  the  greatest  ruler  and  warrior  produced  by 
ancient  Ireland.  Because  of  a  series  of  tragedies  in  which 
the  hero  himself  bore  no  blameful  part,  Brian  of  Kinkora, 
son  of  Kennedy  and  brother  of  Mahon,  both  of  whom 
had  reigned  as  kings  of  Thomond,  or  North  Munster, 
ascended  the  throne  of  that  province.  Mahon,  progeni- 
tor of  the  southern  MacMahons — from  whom  descended 
the  late  President  of  the  French  Republic,  Maurice 
Patrice  MacMahon,  Marshal  of  France  and  Duke  of 
Magenta — was  murdered  by  Prince  Donovan,  a  faithless 
ally.  His  younger  brother,  Brian,  afterward  called 
Borumah  or  "Boru" — literally,  "Brian  of  the  Cow 
Tribute" — fiercely  avenged  his  assassination  on  the  treach- 
erous Donovan,  and  on  the  Danish  settlers  of  Limerick, 
who  were  the  confederates  of  that  criminal  in  his  evil 
acts.  Brian,  young,  powerful,  and  destitute  of  fear,  after 
disposing  of  Donovan,  killed  with  his  own  brave  hand 
Ivor,  the  Danish  prince,  together  with  his  two  sons,  al- 
though these  fierce  pagans  had  taken  refuge  in  the  Chris- 
tian sanctuary  on  Scattery  Island,  in  the  Shannon,  and 
then  swept  the  remaining  conspirators,  both  Irish  and 
Danes,  off  the  face  of  the  earth.  Prince  Murrough, 
Brian's  heir,  then  a  mere  boy,  slew  in  single  combat  the 
villanous  chief,  Molloy,  who,  as  the  base  instrument  of 
Donovan  and  Ivor,  actually  killed  his  uncle,  King  Mahon. 
Afterward,  Brian  reigned  for  a  brief  period,  quietly,  as 

The  People's  History  of  Ireland  51 

King  of  Thomond.  He  had  a  profound  insight  and 
well  knew  that  only  a  strong,  centralized  government 
could  unite  all  Ireland  against  the  foreigners,  and  he  de- 
signed to  be  the  head  of  such  a  government.  He  had 
only  one  rival  in  fame  and  ability  on  Irish  soil — the 
reigning  Ard-Righ,  Malachy  II.  This  monarch  had 
scourged  the  warrior  Northmen  in  many  bloody  cam- 
paigns. In  one  battle  he  slew  two  Danish  princes,  and 
took  from  one  a  golden  collar,  and  from  the  other  a  price- 
less sword.  The  poet  Moore  commemorates  the  former 
exploit  in  the  well-known  melody,  "Let  Erin  Remember 
the  Days  of  Old." 

Brian  of  Kinkora,  fiery  of  mood,  enterprising,  ambi- 
tious, and,  we  fear,  somewhat  unscrupulous  in  pursuit  of 
sovereignty,  a  born  general  and  diplomat,  as  either  ca- 
pacity might  suit  his  purpose,  burned  to  possess  himself 
of  the  supreme  sceptre.  His  ambition  led,  as  usual  under 
such  conditions,  to  acts  of  aggression  on  his  part,  and, 
finally,  to  civil  war  between  Malachy  and  himself.  A 
terrible  struggle  raged  in  Ireland  for  twenty  years,  until, 
at  last,  Ard-Righ  Malachy  was  forced  to  capitulate,  and 
his  rival  became  High  King  of  Ireland  in  his  place.  The 
Danes,  naturally,  took  advantage  of  the  civil  strife  to 
re-establish  their  sway  in  the  island,  and  gained  many  ad- 
vantages over  the  Irish  troops.  Moved  by  the  danger  of 
his  country,  the  noble  Malachy  allied  himself  with  Brian, 
and,  together,  they  marched  against  the  Norsemen  and 
drove  them  back  to  their  seacoast  forts.  But  those  bold 
and  restless  spirits  did  not,  therefore,  cease  to  war  upon 
Ireland.  Again  and  yet  again  they  placed  new  armies  in 
the  field,  only  to  be  again  baffled  and  routed  by  either  the 
skilful  Brian  or  the  devoted  Malachy. 

52  The  People's  History  of  Ireland 


Battle  of  Clontarf,  A.D.,  1014 — Total  Overthrow  of  the  Danish  Army 
and  Power  in  Ireland 

MANY  of  the  princes  of  Leinster,  more  especially 
the  MacMurroughs  (MacMurro)  were  generally, 
in  some  measure,  allied  to  the  Danes,  and  fought  with 
them  against  their  own  countrymen.  After  several  years 
of  warfare,  a  peace  was,  at  length,  patched  up  with  the 
MacMurrough,  and  he  became  a  guest  of  King  Brian  at 
Kinkora.  In  those  days  chess  was  the  national  game 
of  the  Irish  princes  and  chiefs,  and  while  engaged  in  it 
with  the  Leinster  guest,  Prince  Murrough  (Murro), 
Brian's  eldest  son,  in  a  fit  of  anger,  hurled  a  taunt  at  the 
former  in  regard  to  his  recent  alliance  with  the  invaders 
of  his  country.  This  action  was,  of  course,  rude,  and 
even  brutal,  on  the  part  of  Prince  Murrough,  although 
MacMurrough  had  been  guilty  of  treasonable  offences. 
The  Leinster  potentate  rose  immediately  from  the  table 
at  which  they  were  playing,  pale  from  rage,  and,  in  a 
loud  voice,  called  for  his  horse  and  retainers.  He  was 
obeyed  at  once  and  left  the  palace.  The  wise  King  Brian, 
on  learning  of  the  quarrel  and  departure,  sent  messengers 
after  the  King  of  Leinster  to  bring  him  back,  but  his 
anger  was  so  great  that  he  would  not  listen  to  their  rep- 
resentations, so  that  they  went  back  without  him  to  Kin- 
kora. MacMurrough  immediately  re-allied  himself  with 
the  Danes,  and  so  the  flames  of  war  were  rekindled  with  a 
vengeance.  Many  other  princes  and  chiefs  of  Leinster 

The  People's  History  of  Ireland  53 

made  common  cause  with  their  king  and  his  foreign  allies. 
Reinforcements  for  the  latter  poured  into  Ireland  from 
Scandinavia,  from  Britain,  from  the  neighboring  islands, 
from  every  spot  of  earth  on  which  an  invader  could  be 
mustered — all  inflamed  against  Ireland,  and  all  expecting 
to  wipe  King  Brian  and  his  army  from  the  Irish  soil. 
But  Brian  had  his  allies,  too ;  the  armies  of  Munster,  Con- 
naught,  part  of  Ulster,  and  most  of  the  heroic  clans  of 
Leinster  flocked  to  his  standard,  the  latter  led  by  the  ever- 
faithful  Malachy  and  his  tributary  chiefs.  All  of  the 
MacMurrough  interest,  as  already  stated,  sided  with  the 
Danes.  A  majority  of  the  Ulster  princes,  jealous  of 
Brian's  fame  and  supreme  power,  held  back  from  his 
support,  but  did  not  join  the  common  enemy. 

Brian  was  now  an  old  man,  and  even  his  bold  son, 
Murrough,  the  primary  cause  of  the  new  trouble,  was 
beyond  middle  age.  The  hostile  armies  hurried  toward 
Dublin,  the  principal  Danish  stronghold,  and  on  Good 
Friday  morning,  April  23,  1014,  were  face  to  face  on  the 
sands  of  Clontarf,  which  slope  down  to  Dublin  Bay.  We 
have  no  correct  account  of  the  numbers  engaged,  but 
there  were,  probably,  not  less  than  thirty  thousand  men 
— large  armies  for  those  remote  days — on  each  side.  It 
was  a  long  and  a  terrible  battle,  for  each  army  appeared 
determined  to  conquer  or  die.  Under  King  Brian  com- 
manded Prince  Murrough  and  his  five  brothers :  Malachy, 
Kian,  Prince  of  Desmond,  or  South  Munster;  Davoren, 
of  the  same  province;  O' Kelly,  Prince  of  Hy-Many,  East 
Connaught;  O'Heyne,  the  Prince  of  Dalaradia,  and  the 
Stewards  of  Mar  and  Lennox  in  Scotland. 

The  Danes  and  their  allies  were  commanded  by  Brodar, 
the  chief  admiral  of  the  Danish  fleet;  King  Sitric,  of 

54  The   People's   History  of  Ireland 

Dublin;*  the  Danish  captains,  Sigurd  and  Duvgall,  and 
the  warrior  Norwegian  chiefs,  Carlos  and  Anrud.  The 
Lord  of  the  Orkney  Islands  also  led  a  contingent,  in 
which  Welsh  and  Cornish  auxiliaries  figured. 

Thus,  it  will  seem,  the  cause  was  one  of  moment,  as  the 
fate  of  a  country  was  to  be  decided,  and  the  ablest  cap- 
tains of  Ireland  and  Scandinavia  led  the  van  of  the  re- 
spective hosts.  The  struggle  was  long  and  murderous, 
for  the  armies  fought  hand  to  hand.  Brian,  too  feeble  to 
sit  his  war-horse  and  bear  the  weight  of  even  his  light 
armor,  worn  out,  moreover,  by  the  long  march  and  the 
marshaling  of  his  forces,  was  prevailed  upon  to  retire  to 
his  pavilion  and  rest.  He  placed  the  active  command  of 
the  Irish  army  in  the  hands  of  King  Malachy  and  his  son, 
Prince  Murrough  O'Brien.  The  conflict  lasted  from  day- 
light until  near  the  setting  of  the  sun.  Every  leader  of 
note  on  the  Danish  side,  except  Brodar,  was  killed — many 
by  the  strong  hand  of  Prince  Murrough  and  his  brave 
young  son,  Turlough  O'Brien,  after  his  father  the  person 
most  likely  to  be  elected  to  the  chief  kingship  of  Ireland. 
On  the  Irish  side  there  fell  Prince  Murrough,  his  gallant 
son,  the  Scottish  chiefs  of  Mar  and  Lennox,  who  came, 
with  their  power,  to  fight  for  Ireland,  and  many  other 
leaders  of  renown.  King  Brian  himself,  while  at  prayer 
in  his  tent,  which  stood  apart  and  unguarded,  was  killed 
by  Brodar,  the  flying  Danish  admiral,  who  was  pursued 
and  put  to  death  by  a  party  of  Irish  soldiers. 

The  slaughter  of  the  minor  officers  and  private  men, 
on  both  sides,  was  immense,  and  the  little  river  Tolka,  on 
the  banks  of  which  the  main  battle  was  fought,  was 

*  Sitric,  according  to  some  writers,  was  not  in  the  battle. 

The  People's  History  of  Ireland  55 

choked  with  dead  bodies  and  ran  red  with  blood.  But 
the  Danes  and  their  allies  were  completely  broken  and 
routed,  and  the  raven  of  Denmark  never  again  soared 
to  victory  in  the  Irish  sky.  Many  Danes  remained  in 
the  Irish  seaport  towns,  but  they  became  Irish  in  dress, 
language,  and  feeling,  and  thousands  of  their  descend- 
ants are  among  the  best  of  Irishmen  to-day. 

Ireland,  although  so  signally  victorious  at  Clontarf,  sus- 
tained what  proved  to  be  a  deadly  blow  in  the  loss  of  her 
aged  king  and  his  two  immediate  heirs.  Brian,  himself, 
unwittingly  opened  the  door  of  discord  when  he  took  the 
crown  forcibly  from  the  Hy-Niall  family,  which  had  worn 
it  so  long.  His  aim  was  to  establish  a  supreme  and  per- 
petual Dalcassian  dynasty  in  himself  and  his  descendants 
— a  wise  idea  for  those  times,  but  one  balked  by  destiny. 
Now  all  the  provincial  Irish  monarchs  aspired  to  the  su- 
preme power,  and  this  caused  no  end  of  jealousy  and 
intrigue.  Brian,  in  his  day  of  pride,  had  been  hard  on 
the  Ossorians,  and  their  chief,  Fitzpatrick,  Prince  of 
Ossory,  basely  visited  his  wrath,  as  an  ally  of  the  Danes, 
on  the  Dalcassian  contingent  of  the  Irish  army  returning 
from  Clontarf  encumbered  by  their  wounded.  But  these 
dauntless  warriors  did  not  for  a  moment  flinch.  The 
hale  stood  gallantly  to  their  arms,  and  the  wounded,  un- 
able to  stand  upright,  demanded  to  be  tied  to  stakes  placed 
in  the  ground,  and  thus  supported  they  fought  with  mag- 
nificent desperation.  The  treacherous  Ossorian  prince 
was  routed,  as  he  deserved  to  be,  and  has  left  behind 
a  name  of  infamy.  Many  noble  patriots  of  the  house  of 
Fitzpatrick  have  since  arisen  and  passed  away,  but  that 
particular  traitor  ranks  with  Iscariot,  MacMurrough, 
Monteith,  and  Arnold  in  the  annals  of  treachery.  Who 

56  The  People's  History  of  Ireland 

that  has  read  them  has  not  been  thrilled  by  the  noble  lines 
of  Moore  which  describe  the  sacrifice  of  the  wounded 
Dalcassians  ? 

"Forget  not  our  wounded  companions  who  stood 

In  the  day  of  distress  by  our  side; 
When  the  moss  of  the  valley  grew  red  with  their  blood 

They  stirred  not,  but  conquered  and  died ! 
That  sun  which  now  blesses  our  arms  with  his  light, — 

Saw  them  fall  upon  Ossory's  plain, 
Of  let  him  not  blush  when  he  leaves  us  to-night 

To  €nd  that  they  fell  there  in  vain." 

The  glorioos  King  Malachy,  although  ever  in  the 
thickest  of  the  battle,  survived  the  carnage  of  Clontarf. 
Unable  to  agree  upon  a  candidate  from  any  of  the  pro- 
vincial royal  families  because  of  their  bitter  rivalries, 
the  various  factions,  having  confidence  in  Malachy's  wis- 
dom and  patriotism,  again  elected  him  High  King  of 
Ireland,  the  last  man  who  held  that  title  without  dispute. 
He  reigned  but  eight  years  after  his  second  elevation  to 
the  supreme  throne  of  his  country  and  died  at  a  good 
old  age  about  the  middle  of  September,  1022,  in  the 
odor  of  sanctity,  and  sincerely  lamented  by  the  Irish 
nation,  excepting  a  few  ambitious  princes  who  coveted 
the  crown  his  acts  had  glorified.  In  the  whole  range  of 
Irish  history  he  was  the  noblest  royal  character,  and  his 
name  deserves  to  be  forever  honored  by  the  nation  he 
sought  to  preserve. 

After  the  good  king's  death,  a  younger  son  of  Brian 
Boru,  Prince  Donough  (Dunna),  made  an  attempt  to  be 
elected  Ard-Righ,  and,  failing  in  that,  sought  to  hold 
the  crown  by  force.  But  the  provincial  monarchs  refused 
to  recognize  his  claims,  as  he  did  not  appear  to  inherit 
either  the  military  prowess  or  force  of  character  of  his 

The  People's  History  of  Ireland  57 

great  father.  After  some  futile  attempts  to  maintain  his 
assumed  authority,  he  was  finally  deposed  by  his  abler 
nephew,  Turlough  O'Brien,  who  occupied  the  throne,  not 
without  violent  opposition,  for  a  period.  Poor  Donough 
proceeded  to  Rome  and  presented  his  father's  crown  and 
harp  to  the  Pope,  probably  because  he  had  no  other  valu- 
able offerings  to  bestow.  This  circumstance  was  after- 
ward made  use  of  by  the  Anglo-Normans  to  make  it 
appear  that  the  presentation  made  by  the  deposed  and 
discredited  Donough  to  the  Pontiff  carried  with  it  the 
surrender  of  the  sovereignty  of  Ireland  to  his  Holiness. 
No  argument  could  be  more  absurd,  because,  as  has  been 
shown,  the  crown  of  Ireland  was  elective,  not  hereditary, 
except  with  well  understood  limitations,  which  made  the 
blood  royal  a  necessity  in  any  candidate.  Donough,  in 
any  case,  was  never  acknowledged  as  High  King  of 
Ireland,  and  could  not  transfer  a  title  he  did  not  possess. 
In  fact  all  the  Irish  monarchs  may  be  best  described  not 
as  Kings  of  Ireland,  but  Kings  of  the  Irish.  They  had 
no  power  to  alienate,  or  transfer,  the  tribe  lands  from 
the  people,  and  held  them  only  in  trust  for  their  voluntary 
subjects.  Modern  Irish  landlordism  is  founded  on  the 
feudal,  not  the  tribal,  system.  Hence  its  unfitness  to 
satisfy  a  people  in  whom  lingers  the  heredity  of  the 
ancient  Celtic  custom.  King  Brian,  the  most  absolute  of 
all  the  Irish  rulers,  is  described  by  some  annalists  as 
"Emperor  of  the  Irish." 


58  The  People's  History  of  Ireland 

Desolating  Civil  Wars  Among  the  Irish 

FROM  the  deposition  of  Donough  O'Brien  down  to 
the  period  of  the  Norman  invasion  of  the  island — 
about  a  century  and  a  half — Ireland  was  cursed  by  the 
civil  wars  which  raged  interminably,  because  of  disputes 
of  royal  succession,  between  the  McLoughlins  of  Ulster 
— a  branch  of  the  Hy-Niall  dynasty — and  the  descendants 
of  King  Brian  of  Kinkora,  in  which  the  latter  were  finally 
worsted.  Then  the  successful  family  fell  out  with  royal 
O'Conors  of  Connaught.  One  of  the  latter,  a  brave  and 
ambitious  man,  called  Turlough  Mor,  aimed  at  the  chief 
sovereignty  and  proved  himself  an  able  general  and  a 
wise  statesman.  He  reigned  in  splendor  over  Connaught, 
and  terrorized  his  enemies  of  Ulster  and  Munster  by  his 
splendid  feats  of  arms.  He  held  his  court  at  Rathcro- 
ghan,  in  Roscommon,  and  often  entertained  as  many  as 
3,000  guests  on  occasions  of  festival.  His  palace,  forti- 
fied after  the  circular  Celtic  fashion,  dominated  more 
than  four  hundred  forts,  or  duns,  which  were  the  strong- 
holds of  his  chiefs,  in  the  territory  of  Roscommon  alone ; 
he  founded  churches  and  was  generous  to  the  clergy  and 
to  the  poor.  In  spite  of  all  this,  however,  he  was  unable 
to  attain  to  the  High  Kingship,  and  only  succeeded  in 
paving  the  way  to  the  national  throne  for  his  son  and 
successor,  Rory,  commonly  called  Roderick,  O' Conor, 
whose  reign  was  destined  to  behold  the  Anglo-Normans 

The  People's  History  of  Ireland  59 

in  Ireland.  Dr.  Joyce,  in  dealing  with  this  troubled 
period  of  Irish  history,  says  that  during  the  one  hundred 
and  fifty  years  comprised  in  it,  there  were  eight  Ard- 
Righs  "with  opposition" — that  is,  some  one  of  the  prov- 
inces, perhaps  more,  would  refuse  to  recognize  their 
jurisdiction.  There  was  also  chaos  among  the  minor 
royal  families.  As  regarded  the  High  King,  it  was  not 
unusual  to  have  two  of  them  using  that  title  at  once,  as 
was  the  case  with  Donal  O'Loughlin,  King  of  Ulster, 
and  Murtough  O'Brien,  King  of  Munster.  Both  these 
claimants  terminated  their  careers  in  monasteries.  A 
similar  condition  existed,  also,  between  Turlough  Mor 
O'Conor,  before  mentioned,  and  Murtough  O'Loughlin, 
King  of  Ulster,  and  the  strife  was  only  ended  by  the 
death  of  Turlough  Mor,  in  1156.  His  son,  Roderick, 
then  attempted  to  wrest  the  Ard-Righship  from  the 
Ulster  monarch,  but  was  defeated.  On  the  death  of 
the  latter,  in  1166,  Roderick,  who  was  not  opposed  by 
any  candidate  of  influence,  was  elected  High  King — the 
last  of  the  title  who  reigned  over  all  Ireland. 

It  may  be  asked,  why  did  not  the  clansmen — the  rank 
and  file  of  the  Irish  people — put  a  stop  to  the  insane  feuds 
of  their  kipgs,  princes,  and  chiefs  ?  Because,  we  answer, 
they  were  accustomed  to  the  tribal  system  and  idea. 
Doubtless,  they  loved  Ireland,  in  a  general  way,  but  were 
much  more  attached  to  their  family  tribe-land,  and,  above 
all,  they  adored  the  head  of  their  sept  and  followed  where 
he  led,  asking  no  questions  as  to  the  ethics  of  his  cause. 
Had  they  been  more  enlightened  regarding  the  art  of  gov- 
ernment, they  might  have  combined  against  their  selfish 
leaders  and  crushed  them.  But  the  tribal  curse  was  upon 
them,  and  is  not  yet  entirely  lifted. 

60  The  People's  History  of  Ireland 

The  Danes  held  the  crown  of  England  for  about  a 
quarter  of  a  century  after  they  were  driven  from  power 
in  Ireland.  At  last,  after  great  difficulty,  they  were 
driven  from  the  throne  and  the  saintly  Edward  the  Con- 
fessor, of  the  old  Saxon  line,  was  raised  to  the  kingship 
of  England.  His  successor,  King  Harold — a  brave  but,  we 
fear,  not  a  very  wise  man — is  said  by  English  historians 
to  have  "done  homage" — an  evil  custom  of  those  days — 
to  William,  Duke  of  Normandy,  while  on  a  visit  to  that 
country.  At  all  events,  William  claimed  the  crown,  which 
Harold,  very  properly,  declined  to  surrender.  William 
was  an  able  and  resolute,  but  fierce  and  cruel,  warrior. 
He  speedily  organized  a  force  of  60,000  mercenaries, 
mainly  French-Normans,  but  with  thousands  of  real 
Frenchmen  among  them,  and,  having  provided  himself 
with  an  immense  flotilla — a  wondrous  achievement  in  that 
age  of  the  world — succeeded  in  throwing  his  entire  force 
on  the  English  coast.  Harold,  nothing  daunted,  met  him 
on  a  heath  near  Hastings,  in  Sussex,  where  the  Saxon 
army  had  strongly  intrenched  itself,  and  would,  perhaps, 
have  been  victorious  had  not  it  abandoned  its  position 
to  pursue  the  fleeing  Normans,  who,  with  their  accus- 
tomed martial  skill,  turned  upon  their  disordered  pur- 
suers and  repulsed  them  in  return.  The  centre  of  the 
great  conflict  is  marked  by  the  ruins  of  Battle  Abbey. 
The  two  armies  were  about  equal  in  strength  and  fought 
the  whole  length  of  an  October  day  before  the  combat 
was  decided.  Prodigies  of  valor  were  performed,  but, 
at  last,  the  brave  Harold  fell,  and  the  remains  of  the 
Saxon  army  fled  from  that  fatal  field.  William,  soon 
afterward,  occupied  London.  The  Saxons  made  but 
small  show  of  resistance,  after  Hastings,  and,  within  a 

The  People's   History  of  Ireland  61 

few  years,  "fair  England"  was  parceled  out  among  Wil- 
liam's Norman-French  captains,  who  thus  laid  the  foun- 
dation of  the  baronial  fabric  that,  with  one  brief  interval, 
has  dominated  England  ever  since.  A  few  of  the  Saxon 
nobles  managed,  somehow,  to  save  their  domains — 
probably  by  swearing  allegiance  to  William  and  marrying 
their  lovely  daughters  to  his  chiefs — but,  as  a  whole,  the 
Saxon  people  became  the  serfs  of  the  Norman  barons, 
and  were  scarcely  recognized  even  as  subjects,  until  the 
long  and  bloody  wars  with  France,  in  the  thirteenth,  four- 
teenth, and  fifteenth  centuries,  made  them  necessary,  in 
a  military  sense,  to  the  Plantagenet  kings,  who  employed 
them  chiefly  as  archers.  Under  Norman  training,  their 
skill  with  the  deadly  long  bow  made  them  perhaps  the 
most  formidable  infantry  of  the  Middle  Ages. 

The  Normans  in  England,  very  wisely,  accommodated 
themselves  to  the  new  conditions  and  made  up  their  minds 
to  live  upon  and  enjoy  the  lands  they  had  won  by  the 
sword.  They  rapidly  became  more  English  than  Nor- 
man, and  after  the  accession  of  the  House  of  Anjou 
to  the  throne,  in  the  person  of  Henry  II,  began  to  call 
themselves  "Englishmen."  Sir  Walter  Scott,  in  his 
noble  historical  romance  of  "Ivanhoe,"  draws  a  splen- 
didly vivid  picture  of  that  period. 

In  Ireland,  as  we  have  seen,  the  series  of  distracting 
civil  wars,  all  growing  out  of  questions  of  succession  to 
the  national  and  provincial  thrones,  still  progressed,  and, 
owing  to  the  unceasing  discord,  prosperity  waned,  and 
some  historians  claim  that  Church  discipline  was  relaxed, 
although  not  to  any  such  extent  as  is  asserted  by  the  Nor- 
man chroniclers.  But  the  reigning  Pontiff,  hearing  of 
the  trouble,  summoned  some  of  the  leading  hierarchs  of 

62  The  People's  History  of  Ireland 

the  Irish  Church  to  Rome,  where  they  explained  matters 

About  the  time  that  Henry  II,  in  virtue  of  his  descent 
from  the  Conqueror,  through  his  mother,  daughter  of 
Henry  I,  assumed  the  English  crown,  the  Papal  chair  was 
occupied  by  Adrian  the  Fourth,  whose  worldly  name  was 
Nicholas  Breakspeare,  an  Englishman  by  birth,  and  the 
only  man  of  that  nationality  who  ever  wore  the  tiara.  He, 
too,  had  been  informed  by  Norman  agents  of  the  dis- 
orders in  Ireland,  where,  among  other  things,  it  was 
claimed  that  the  people  in  general  had  neglected  to  pay  to 
the  Papacy  the  slight  tribute  known  as  "Peter's  Pence." 
This  circumstance,  no  doubt,  irritated  the  Pontiff,  and 
when  Henry,  who  had  his  ambitious  heart  set  on  acquir- 
ing the  sovereignty  of  Ireland,  laid  open  his  design,  Pope 
Adrian,  according  to  credible  authority,  gave  him  a  docu- 
ment called  a  "bull,"  in  which,  it  would  appear,  he  under- 
took to  "bestow"  Ireland  on  the  English  king,  with  the 
understanding  that  he  should  do  his  utmost  to  reform  the 
evils  in  Church  and  State  said  to  exist  in  that  country, 
and  also  compel  the  regular  payment  of  the  Papal  tribute. 
All  of  which  Henry  agreed  to  do. 

The  People's  History  of  Ireland  63 


The  Norman- Welsh  Invasion  of  Ireland — Their  Landing  in  Wexford 

POPE  ADRIAN'S  "gift"  of  Ireland  to  Henry  II, 
absurd  as  it  may  appear  in  this  age,  was  not  with- 
out precedent  in  the  Middle  Ages,  when  the  Roman 
Pontiff  was  regarded  as  supreme  arbiter  by  nearly  all 
of  Christendom.  Such  "gifts"  had  been  made  before  the 
time  of  Adrian,  and  some  afterward,  but  they  were  not 
considered  bona  fide  by  the  countries  involved.  So  also 
with  the  Irish  people  as  a  majority.  They  respected, 
as  they  still  respect,  the  Pope  in  his  spiritual  capacity, 
but  rightly  conceived  that  he  had  no  power  whatever  to 
make  a  present  of  their  country  to  any  potentate,  whether 
native  or  alien,  without  their  consent.  An  influential 
minority  held  otherwise,  with  most  unfortunate  results, 
as  we  shall  see.  Some  superzealous  Catholic  writ- 
ers have  sought  to  discredit  the  existence  of  the  "bull" 
of  Adrian,  but  weight  of  evidence  is  against  them,  and, 
in  any  case,  it  was  "confirmed,"  at  Henry's  urgent  re- 
quest, by  Pope  Alexander  III.  The  king  was  engaged 
in  civil  war  with  his  own  sons — in  every  way  worthy  of 
their  rapacious  father — during  most  of  his  reign,  for  he 
held  under  his  sway  Normandy,  Aquitaine,  and  other 
parts  of  France,  which  they  wanted  for  themselves. 
Thus  no  chance  to  push  his  long  meditated  Irish  scheme 
presented  itself  until  about  A.  D.  1168.  Fifteen  years 
prior  to  that  date,  Dermid,  or  Dermot,  MacMurrough 

Ireland— 4  Vol.  L 

64  The  People's  History  of  Ireland 

(Mac  Murro),  King  of  Leinster,  a  very  base  and  dis- 
solute ruler,  had  carried  off  the  wife  of  O'Ruarc,  Prince 
of  Breffni,  while  the  latter  was  absent  on  a  pious  pil- 
grimage. The  lady  was  a  willing  victim,  and  added  the 
dowry  she  brought  her  husband  to  the  treasure  of  her 
paramour.  When  Breffni  returned  to  his  castle  and  found 
that  his  wife  had  betrayed  him,  he  was  overpowered  by 
grief  and  anger,  and,  not  having  sufficient  military  force 
himself  to  punish  his  enemy,  he  called  on  Turlough  Mor 
O'Conor,  then  titular  Ard-Righ,  to  assist  him  in  chastis- 
ing MacMurrough.  O'Conor  did  so  to  such  purpose 
that,  according-  to  Irish  annals,  Dervorgilla,  which  was 
the  name  of  O'Ruarc's  wife,  together  with  her  dowry, 
was  restored  to  her  husband,  who,  however,  discarded 
her,  and  she  died  penitent,  it  is  said,  forty  years  after- 
ward in  the  cloisters  of  Mellifont  Abbey.  But  Dermid's 
evil  conduct  did  not  end  with  his  outrage  against  O'Ruarc. 
He  entertained  the  most  deadly  animosity  to  the  O'Conor 
family  on  account  of  the  punishment  inflicted  on  him  by 
Turlough  Mor,  and  when  on  the  death  in  battle  of  Ard- 
Righ  Murtagh  McLaughlin,  Roderick,  son  of  Turlough 
Mor,  claimed  the  national  crown,  MacMurrough  refused 
him  recognition,  although  nearly  all  the  other  sub-kings 
had  acknowledged  him  as  supreme  ruler  of  Ireland.  In- 
censed at  his  stubbornness,  King  Roderick,  who  had  with 
him  O'Ruarc  and  other  princes  of  Connaught,  marched 
against  Dermid,  who,  seeing  that  he  was  overmatched, 
burned  his  palace  of  Ferns,  and,  taking  to  his  galley, 
crossed  the  Irish  Sea  to  England  and  sought  out  King 
Henry  II  at  his  Court  of  London.  On  arriving  there 
he  was  informed  that  the  king  was  in  Aquitaine,  and 
thither  he  at  once  proceeded.  The  politic  founder  of 

The  People's  History  of  Ireland  65 

the  Plantagenet  dynasty  received  him  quite  graciously 
and  listened  complacently  to  his  story.  Henry  was  se- 
cretly well  pleased  with  the  treasonable  errand  of  his 
infamous  guest,  which  was  to  demand  Anglo-Norman 
aid  against  his  own  monarch,  regardless  of  the  after 
consequences  to  the  fortunes  of  his  country.  He  enumer- 
ated his  grievances  at  the  hands  of  the  O' Conors,  father 
and  son,  and  related  how  he  had  been  the  faithful  ally  of 
the  former  in  his  long  war  with  one  of  the  Thomond 
O'Briens.  Turlough  Mor,  he  considered,  had  treated  him 
badly  for  the  sake  of  O'Ruarc,  and  his  son,  Roderick, 
had  been  quite  as  hostile,  forcing  him  to  seek  Henry's 
protection  against  further  invasion  of  his  hereditary 
patrimony.  The  Anglo-Norman  king  said,  in  reply,  that 
he  could  not  aid  MacMurrough  in  person  as  he  was  then 
engaged  in  a  war  with  one  or  more  of  his  own  sons,  but 
he  consented  to  give  him  commendatory  letters  to  certain 
Norman  chiefs,  brave  but  needy,  who  were  settled  in 
Wales  and  the  West  of  England,  and  had  there  made 
powerful  matrimonial  alliances.  The  traitor  gladly  ac- 
cepted the  letters,  "did  homage"  to  Henry,  and  took  his 
leave  elated  at  the  partial  success  of  his  unnatural  mis- 
sion. Landing  in  Wales,  he  found  himself  within  a 
short  time  in  the  presence  of  Richard  De  Clare,  sur- 
named  "Strongbow,"  a  brave,  adventurous,  and  un- 
scrupulous Norman  noble,  who  bore  the  title  of  Earl 
of  Pembroke.  He  also  made  the  acquaintance  of  other 
Norman  knights — among  them  Robert  Fitzstephen,  Mau- 
rice De  Prendergast,  Maurice  Fitzgerald,  ancestor  of  the 
famous  Geraldine  houses  of  Kildare  and  Desmond ;  Mey- 
ler  FitzHenry  and  Raymond  Le  Gros — all  tried  warriors, 
all  in  reduced  circumstances,  and  all  ready  and  willing 

66  The  People's  History  of  Ireland 

to  barter  their  fighting  blood  for  the  fair  hills  and  rich 
valleys  of  Ireland.  They  listened  eagerly  while  Mac- 
Murrough  unfolded  his  precious  plot  of  treason  and  black 
revenge.  The  daring  adventurers  seized  upon  the  chance 
of  fortune  at  once,  and  the  traitor  was  sent  back  to  Ire- 
land to  prepare  his  hereditary  following  for  the  friendly 
reception  of  "the  proud  invaders,"  his  newly  made  allies. 
Before  leaving  Wales  he  had  made  bargains  with  the 
alien  adventurers  which  were  disgraceful  to  him  as  a 
native-born  Irishman.  In  a  word,  he  had,  by  usurped 
authority,  mortgaged  certain  tracts  of  the  land  of  Leinster 
for  the  mercenary  aid  of  the  Anglo-Normans,  or,  to  be 
more  historically  exact,  the  Norman  Welsh. 

Soon  after  the  departure  of  Dermid  for  Ireland,  Robert 
Fitzstephen,  the  readiest  of  the  warlike  plotters,  and  the 
first  of  the  invaders,  sailed  for  that  country  at  the  head 
of  thirty  knights,  sixty  men  in  armor,  and  three  hundred 
light-armed  archers.  In  the  fragrant  ides  of  May,  1169, 
they  landed  on  the  Wexford  coast,  near  Bannow,  and 
thus,  inconsequentially,  began  the  Norman  invasion  of 
Ireland.  De  Prendergast  arrived  the  following  day  with 
about  the  same  number  of  fighting  men.  Only  a  few 
years  ago,  in  removing  some  debris — the  accumulation 
of  ages — near  Bannow,  the  laborers  found  the  traces  of 
the  Norman  camp-fires  of  1169  almost  perfectly  pre- 
served. The  two  adventurers  sent  tidings  of  their  arrival 
to  MacMurrough  without  delay,  and  he  marched  at  once, 
with  a  powerful  force  of  his  own  retainers  to  join  them. 
All  three,  having  united  their  contingents,  marched  upon 
the  city  of  Wexford,  many  of  whose  inhabitants  were 
lineal  descendants  of  the  Danes.  They  made  a  gallant 
defence,  but  were  finally  outmanoeuvred,  overpowered, 

The  People's  History  of  Ireland  67 

and  compelled  to  capitulate.  Other  towns  of  less  im- 
portance submitted  under  protest  to  superior  force.  In- 
deed there  seemed  to  be  a  total  lack  of  military  foresight 
and  preparedness  in  all  that  section  of  Ireland  in  1169. 
Fitzpatrick,  Prince  of  Ossory,  descended  from  that  ally 
of  the  Danes  who  attacked  the  Dalcassians  returning 
from  Clontarf,  alone  opposed  to  the  invaders  a  brave 
and  even  formidable  front.  He  committed  the  mistake 
of  accepting  a  pitched  battle  with  MacMurrough  and  his 
allies,  and  was  totally  defeated.  King  Roderick  O'Conor, 
hearing  of  the  invasion,  summoned  the  Irish  military 
bodies  to  meet  him  at  Tara.  Most  of  them  responded, 
but  the  Prince  of  Ulidia,  MacDunlevy,  took  offence  at 
some  remark  made  by  a  Connaught  prince,  and,  in  con- 
sequence, most  of  the  Ulster  forces  withdrew  from  the 
Ard-Righ.  King  Roderick,  with  the  troops  that  re- 
mained, marched  to  attack  MacMurrough  at  his  favorite 
stronghold  of  Ferns,  where  he  lay  with  the  Normans, 
or  a  part  of  them,  expecting  a  vigorous  siege.  Instead 
of  assaulting  the  enemy's  lines  at  once,  when  his  superior 
numbers  would,  most  likely,  have  made  an  end  of  the 
traitor  and  his  Norman  allies,  O'Conor  weakly  consented 
to  a  parley  with  Dermid,  who  was  a  most  thorough  dip- 
lomat. The  Ard-Righ  consented,  further,  to  a  treaty 
with  MacMurrough,  who,  of  course,  designed  to  break 
it  as  soon  as  the  main  body  of  the  Normans,  under 
Strongbow  in  person,  should  arrive  from  Wales.  He  did 
not,  nevertheless,  hesitate  to  bind  himself  by  a  secret 
clause  of  the  treaty  with  the  king  to  receive  no  more 
foreigners  into  his  army,  and  even  gave  one  of  his  sons 
as  a  hostage  to  guarantee  the  same.  The  Ard-Righ  re- 
tired from  Ferns  satisfied  that  the  trouble  was  ended. 

68  The  People's  History  of  Ireland 

The  royal  army  was  scarcely  out  of  sight  of  the  place 
when  MacMurrough  learned  that  Maurice  Fitzgerald, 
at  the  head  of  a  strong  party  of  Normans,  had  also  ar- 
rived on  the  Wexford  coast.  He  now  thought  himself 
strong  enough  to  lay  claim  to  the  High  Kingship  and 
negotiated  with  the  Danes  of  Dublin  for  recognition  in 
that  capacity.  Meanwhile,  still  another  Norman  con- 
tingent under  Raymond  Le  Gros  landed  at  the  estuary 
of  Waterford,  on  the  Wexford  side  thereof,  and  oc- 
cupied Dundonolf  Rock,  where  they  intrenched  them- 
selves and  eagerly  awaited  the  coming  of  Strongbow 
with  the  main  body  of  the  Norman  army. 

By  this  time  Henry  II  began  to  grow  jealous  of  the 
success  of  his  vassals  in  Ireland.  He  wanted  to  conquer 
the  country  for  himself,  and,  therefore,  sent  orders  to 
Strongbow  not  to  sail.  But  that  hardy  soldier  paid  no 
attention  to  Henry's  belated  command,  and  sailed  with 
a  powerful  fleet  and  army  from  Milford  Haven,  in  Wales, 
arriving  in  Waterford  Harbor  on  August  23,  1171.  The 
Normans,  under  Raymond  Le  Gros,  joined  him  without 
loss  of  time,  and  the  combined  forces  attacked  the  old 
Danish  city.  The  Danes  and  native  Irish  made  common 
cause  against  the  new  enemy  and  a  desperate  and  bloody 
conflict  occurred.  The  Normans  were  several  times  re- 
pulsed, with  great  loss,  but,  better  armed  and  led  than 
their  brave  opponents,  they  returned  to  the  breach  again 
and  yet  again.  At  last  they  gained  entrance  into  the  city, 
which  they  set  on  fire.  An  awful  massacre  ensued.  Three 
hundred  of  the  leading  defenders  were  made  prisoners, 
their  limbs  broken  and  their  maimed  bodies  flung  into 
the  harbor.  King  MacMurrough,  who  had  already 
pledged  his  daughter's  hand  to  Strongbow — a  man  old 

The  People's   History  of  Ireland  69 

enough  to  have  been  her  father — arrived  just  after  the 
city  fell.  In  order  to  celebrate  the  event  with  due  pomp 
and  circumstance,  he  caused  the  Princess  Eva  to  be  mar- 
ried to  the  Norman  baron  in  the  great  cathedral,  while 
the  rest  of  the  city  was  burning,  and  the  blood  of  the 
victims  of  the  assault  still  smoked  amid  the  ruins!  An 
ominous  and  fatal  marriage  it  proved  to  Ireland. 

And  now,  at  last,  the  blood  of  the  native  Irish  was 
stirred  to  its  depths  and  they  began,  when  somewhat  late, 
to  realize  the  danger  to  their  liberty  and  independence. 
In  those  far-off  days,  when  there  were  no  railroads,  no 
electric  wires,  no  good  roads  or  rapid  means  of  commu- 
nication of  any  kind,  and  when  newspapers  were  un- 
known, information,  as  a  matter  of  course,  traveled  slowly 
even  in  a  small  country,  like  Ireland.  The  woods  were 
dense,  the  morasses  fathomless,  and,  in  short,  the  in- 
vaders had  made  their  foothold  firm  in  the  east  and 
south  portions  of  the  island  before  the  great  majority  of 
the  Celtic  Irish  comprehended  that  they  were  in  process 
of  being  subjugated  by  bold  and  formidable  aliens.  There 
had  existed  in  Ireland  from  very  ancient  times  five  main 
roads,  all  proceeding  from  the  hill  of  Tara  to  the  differ- 
ent sections  of  the  country.  That  called  "Dala"  ran 
through  Ossory  into  the  province  of  Munster.  The  road 
called  "Assail"  passed  on  toward  the  Shannon  through 
Mullingar.  The  highway  from  Tara  to  Galway  followed 
the  esker,  or  small  hill  range,  as  it  does  in  our  own  day, 
and  was  called  "Slighe  Mor,"  or  great  road;  the  road 
leading  from  Tara  to  Dublin,  Bray,  and  along  the  Wick- 
low  and  Wexford  coasts  was  called  "Cullin" ;  the  highway 
leading  into  Ulster  ran,  probably,  through  Tredagh,  or 
Drogheda,  Dundalk,  Newry,  and  Armagh,  but  this  is  not 

yo  The  People's  History  of  Ireland 

positive.  As  it  was  the  route  followed  by  the  English 
in  most  of  their  Ulster  wars,  it  is  quite  probable  that  they 
picked  out  a  well-beaten  path,  so  as  to  avoid  the  expense 
and  labor  of  making-  a  new  causeway.  McGee  tells  us 
that  there  were  also  many  cross-roads,  known  by  local 
names,  and  of  these  the  Four  Masters,  at  different  dates, 
mentioned  no  less  than  forty.  These  roads  were  kept  in 
repair,  under  legal  enactment,  and  the  main  highways 
were  required  to  be  of  sufficient  width  to  allow  of  the 
passage  of  two  chariots  all  along  their  course.  We  are 
further  informed  that  the  principal  roads  were  required 
by  law  to  be  repaired  at  seasons  of  games  and  fairs,  and 
in  time  of  war.  At  their  best,  to  judge  by  the  ancient 
chroniclers,  most  of  them  would  be  considered  little  better 
than  "trails"  through  the  mountains,  moors,  and  for- 
ests in  these  times. 

MacMurrough  and  Strongbow  did  not  allow  the  grass 
to  sprout  under  their  feet  before  marching  in  great  force 
on  Dublin.  King  Roderick,  leading  a  large  but  ill-trained 
army,  attempted  to  head  them  off,  but  was  outgeneraled, 
and  the  enemy  soon  appeared  before  the  walls  of  Lein- 
ster's  stronghold.  Its  Dano-Celtic  inhabitants,  cowed  by 
the  doleful  news  from  Waterford,  tried  to  parley;  but 
Strongbow's  lieutenants,  De  Cogan  and  Le  Gros,  eager 
for  carnage  and  rich  plunder,  surprised  the  city,  and  the 
horrors  of  Waterford  were,  in  a  measure,  repeated.  The 
Danish  prince,  Osculph,  and  most  of  his  chief  men  es- 
caped in  their  ships,  but  the  Normans  captured  Dublin, 
and  the  English,  except  for  a  brief  period  in  the  reign  of 
James  II,  have  held  it  from  that  sad  day,  in  October, 
1171,  to  this. 

Roderick  O'Conor,  that  weak  but  well-meaning  prince 

The  People's  History  of  Ireland  71 

and  bad  general,  retired  into  Connaught  and  sent  word 
to  MacMurrough  to  return  to  his  allegiance,  if  he  wished 
to  save  the  life  of  his  son,  held  as  a  hostage.  The  brutal 
and  inhuman  traitor  refused,  and  King  Roderick,  al- 
though humane  almost  to  a  fault,  had  the  unfortunate 
young  man  decapitated.  This  was  poor  compensation  for 
the  loss  of  Waterford  and  Dublin.  Those  pages  of  Irish 
history  are  all  besmeared  with  slaughter. 

Many  of  the  Irish  chroniclers,  who  are  otherwise  se- 
vere on  Norman  duplicity,  relate  a  story  of  chivalry, 
worthy  of  any  age  and  people,  in  connection  with  Mau- 
rice de  Prendergast  and  the  Prince  of  Ossory.  Strong- 
bow  had  deputed  the  former  to  invite  the  latter  to  a 
conference.  The  Irish  prince  accepted.  While  the  con- 
ference was  in  progress,  De  Prendergast  learned  that 
treachery  was  intended  toward  his  guest.  He  immedi- 
ately rushed  into  Strongbow's  presence  and  swore  on 
the  hilt  of  his  sword,  which  was  a  cross,  that  no  man 
there  that  day  should  lay  hands  on  the  Prince  of  Ossory. 
The  latter  was  allowed  to  retire  unmolested,  and  Pren- 
dergast and  his  followers  escorted  him  in  safety  to  his 
own  country.  De  Prendergast  has  been  known  ever 
since  in  Irish  annals  as  "the  Faithful  Norman,"  and  his 
fidelity  has  made  him  the  theme  of  many  a  bardic  song 
and  romantic  tale. 

72  The  People's  History  of  Ireland 


Superior  Armament  of  the  Normans — Arrival  of  Henry  II 

A  LTHOUGH  two  of  the  chief  Irish  cities  had  fallen 
•«"»•  to  the  invaders,  the  struggle  was  not  entirely  aban- 
doned by  the  Irish  nation.  Ulster  and  most  of  Con- 
naught  remained  intact,  and  even  in  Munster  and  Lein- 
ster  there  was,  from  time  to  time,  considerable,  although 
desultory,  resistance  to  the  Anglo-Normans.  The  latter, 
clad  in  steel  armor  from  head  to  foot,  and  possessing 
formidable  weapons,  had  a  great  advantage  over  the 
cloth-clad  Irish,  although,  of  course,  the  latter  greatly 
outnumbered  them.  The  weapons  of  the  Irish  were  the 
skian;  or  short-sword — resembling  the  Cuban  machete — 
the  javelin,  and  the  battle-axe — the  latter  a  terrible  arm 
at  close  quarters;  but  even  the  axe  could  not  cope  with 
the  ponderous  Norman  sword  and  the  death-dealing  long 
bow,  with  its  cloth-yard  shaft.  In  discipline  and  tactics, 
also,  the  Irish  were  overmatched.  In  short,  they  were 
inferior  to  their  enemies  in  everything  but  numbers  and 
courage.  But  all  would  have  been  redeemed  had  they 
but  united  against  the  common  foe. 

Why  they  did  not  may  be  justly,  as  we  think,  attributed 
to  the  tribal  system  which  taught  the  clans  and  tribes 
to  be  loyal  to  their  particular  chiefs  rather  than  to  their 
country  as  a  whole;  the  absence  of  a  fully  recognized 
federal  head,  and  the  vacillations  of  an  honest  and  patri- 
otic Ard-Righ,  who,  noble  and  amiable  of  character,  as 
he  undoubtedly  was,  proved  himself  to  be  a  bungling 

The  Peop/e's  History  of  Ireland  73 

diplomat  and  an  indifferent  general.  Had  his  able  and 
determined  father,  Turlough  Mor,  been  on  the  Irish 
throne,  and  in  the  vigor  of  his  life,  when  Strongbow 
landed,  he  would  have  made  short  work  of  the  Norman 
filibusters.  The  king  seemed  ever  behind  time  in  his 
efforts  to  stem  the  tide  of  invasion.  He  had  rallied  still 
another  army,  and  gained  some  advantages,  when  he  was 
confronted  by  a  new  enemy  in  the  person  of  Henry  II. 
This  king,  determined  not  to  be  outdone  by  his  vassals, 
had  ordered  Strongbow,  who,  because  of  his  marriage 
with  Eva  MacMurrough,  had  assumed  the  lordship  of 
Leinster,  to  return  with  all  his  chief  captains  to  England, 
the  penalty  of  refusal  being  fixed  at  outlawry.  Strong- 
bow  attempted  to  placate  the  wrathful  king  and  sent  to 
him  agents  to  explain  his  position,  but  the  fierce  and 
crafty  Plantagenet  was  not  a  man  to  be  hoodwinked.  He 
collected  a  powerful  fleet  and  army,  set  sail  from  Eng- 
land, in  October,  1171,  and,  toward  the  end  of  that  month, 
landed  in  state  at  Waterford,  where  Strongbow  received 
him  with  all  honor  and  did  homage  as  a  vassal.  This  was 
the  beginning  of  Ireland's  actual  subjugation,  for  had 
the  original  Norman  invaders  refused  to  acknowledge 
Henry's  sovereignty,  and,  uniting  with  the  natives, 
kept  Ireland  for  themselves,  they  would  eventually, 
as  in  England,  have  become  a  component  and  formidable 
part  of  the  nation,  and  proved  a  boon,  instead  of  a  curse, 
to  the  distracted  country.  The  landing  of  Henry  put  an 
end  to  such  a  hope,  and  with  his  advent  began  that  de- 
pendency on  the  English  crown  which  has  been  so  fatal 
to  the  liberty,  the  happiness,  and  the  prosperity  of  "the 
most  unfortunate  of  nations." 

Henry  having  "graciouslv"  received  the  submission  of 

74  The  People's  History  of  Ireland 

Strong-bow  and  his  confederates,  proceeded,  at  once — for 
he  was  a  monarch  of  great  energy — to  make  a  "royal 
progress"  through  the  partially  subdued  portions  of  Mun- 
ster  and  Leinster.  He  took  care,  in  doing  this,  to  show 
Pope  Adrian's  mischievous  "bull"  to  the  Irish  prelates 
and  princes,  some  of  whom,  to  their  discredit  be  it  con- 
fessed, bowed  slavishly  to  the  ill-considered  mandate  of 
the  Pontiff.  Many  of  the  princes  were  even  base  enough 
to  give  Henry  "the  kiss  of  peace,"  when,  instead,  they 
should  have  rushed  to  arms  to  defend  the  honor  and  in- 
dependence of  their  country.  The  prelates,  trained  to  ec- 
clesiastical docility,  disgusted  with  the  everlasting  civil 
contentions  of  the  country,  and  fearful  of  further  unavail- 
ing bloodshed,  had  some  feeble  excuse  for  their  ill- 
timed  acquiescence,  but  what  are  we  to  say  of  those 
wretched  Irish  princes  who  so  weakly  and  wickedly  be- 
trayed their  nation  to  the  foreign  usurper?  They  were 
by  no  means  ignorant  men,  as  times  went,  but  they  were 
ambitious,  vain,  and  jealous  .of  the  half-acknowledged 
authority  of  High  King  Roderick,  who,  poor  man,  seems 
to  have  been  the  Henry  VI  of  Ireland.  Those  treasonable 
princes  deserve  enduring  infamy,  and  foremost  among 
them  were  Dermid  McCarthy,  King  of  Desmond,  and 
Donald  O'Brien,  King  of  Thomond.  Both  lived  to  regret 
most  bitterly  their  cowardice  and  treason. 

Henry  II  was  a  politic  monarch.  He  flattered  the  pli- 
able Irish  bishops  and  spoke  to  them  gently  about  Church 
reforms,  while  he  palavered  the  despicable  Irish  princes, 
and,  at  the  same  time,  pretended  to  favor  the  common 
people  and  affected  to  check  the  rapacity  of  his  Norman 
subjects.  Hostilities  ceased  for  a  time,  except  on  the 
borders  of  Leinster  and  Connaught,  where  King1 

The  People's  History  of  Ireland  75 

Roderick,  deserted  by  many  of  his  allies,  and  deeply  de- 
pressed at  the  absence  of  national  union  against  the  in- 
vaders, kept  up  an  unavailing  resistance.  In  this  he  was 
encouraged  and  aided  by  the  patriotic  Archbishop  of  Dub- 
lin, St.  Lorcan  OTuhill,  who  appears  to  have  been  the 
only  man  among  the  entire  Irish  hierarchy  who  compre- 
hended the  iron  grip  the  Normans  had  on  the  throat  of 
Ireland.  Had  all  the  prelates  been  like  St.  Lorcan,  and 
preached  a  war  of  extermination  against  the  invaders  at 
the  outset,  Ireland  could,  undoubtedly,  have  thrown  off 
the  yoke,  because  the  princes  would  have  been  forced  by 
their  people,  over  whom  the  bishops  had  great  moral 
sway,  to  heal  their  feuds  and  make  common  cause  for 
their  country.  King  Roderick,  despite  his  errors,  de- 
serves honor  for  his  patriotic  spirit.  The  Ulster  princes, 
too,  with  few  exceptions,  stood  •  out  manfully  against 
the  foreigner,  and  a  long  period  elapsed  before  the 
Anglo-Norman  power  found  a  secure  footing  amid  the 
rugged  glens  and  dense  forests  of  the  western  and  north- 
ern portions  of  the  invaded  island. 

Geraldus  Cambrensis,  or  Gerald  Barry,  a  Norman 
priest  of  Welsh  birth,  accompanied,  A.D.  1185,  King 
Henry's  son,  John,  as  chronicler,  to  Ireland.  Like 
nearly  every  man  of  his  race,  he  hated  the  native 
Irish,  but,  occasionally,  as  if  by  accident,  spoke  well  of 
some  of  them.  In  general,  however,  his  book  is  a  gross 
libel  on  the  Irish  Church  and  the  Irish  people.  He  pur- 
ports to  give  Roderick  O'Conor's  address  to  his  army 
on  the  eve  of  battle  with  the  Anglo-Normans,  and  the 
concluding  words  of  the  speech  are  alleged  to  have  been 
as  follows :  "Let  us  then,"  said  the  Irish  king,  "follow- 
ing the  example  of  the  Franks,  and  fighting  bravely  for 

76  The  People's  History  of  Ireland 

our  country,  rush  against  our  enemies,  and  as  these  for- 
eigners have  come  over  few  in  numbers,  let  us  crush  them 
by  a  general  attack.  Fire,  while  it  only  sparkles,  may  be 
speedily  quenched,  but  when  it  has  burst  into  a  flame, 
being  fed  with  fresh  materials,  its  power  increases  with 
the  bulk,  and  it  can  not  be  easily  extinguished.  It  is 
always  best  to  meet  difficulties  half  way,  and  check  the 
first  approaches  of  disease,  for  (the  Latin  quotation  of 
the  king  is  here  translated) 

"  'Too  late  is  medicine,  after  long  delay, 
To  stop  the  lingering  course  of  slow  decay. 

Wherefore,  defending  our  country  and  liberty,  and  ac- 
quiring for  ourselves  eternal  renown,  let  us,  by  a  reso- 
lute attack,  and  the  extermination  of  our  enemies,  though 
they  are  but  few  in  number,  strike  terror  into  the  many, 
and,  by  their  defeat,  evermore  deter  foreign  nations  from 
such  nefarious  attempts." 

Henry's  astute  policy  disarmed,  for  a  time,  even  Rod- 
erick himself.  The  Anglo-Norman  monarch,  who  would 
have  made  an  admirable  modern  politician,  does  not  seem 
to  have  desired  the  absolute  ruin  of  the  Irish  nation,  but 
his  greedy  Norman  captains  were  of  a  different  mind,  and 
when  Henry,  after  having  wined  and  dined  the  Irish 
princes  to  their  hearts'  content,  in  Dublin  and  other 
cities,  at  last  returned  to  England,  in  the  fall  of  1173,  the 
Norman  leaders  showed  their  teeth  to  the  Irish  people, 
and  forced  most  of  those  who  had  submitted  into  fierce 
revolt.  As  a  result,  the  Norman  forces  were  crushed 
in  the  field.  Strongbow,  himself,  was  shut  up  in  Water- 
ford,  and  his  comrades  were  similarly  placed  in  Dublin, 
Drogheda,  and  Wexford.  Henry,  incensed  at  this  un- 

The  People's  History   of  Ireland  77 

looked-for  sequel  to  his  Irish  pilgrimage,  sent  over  a 
commission  to  inquire  into  the  facts.  The  result  was 
that  an  Irish  delegation  went  to  London  to  explain,  and, 
at  Windsor,  where  Henry  held  his  court,  a  treaty  was 
entered  into,  finally,  between  King  Roderick  and  him- 
self, by  which  the  former  acknowledged  Henry  as  "suze- 
rain," and  Roderick  was  recognized  as  High  King  of 
Ireland,  except  the  portions  thereof  held  by  the  Normans 
under  Henry.  This  was  a  sad  ending  of  Roderick's  he- 
roic beginning.  As  usual  with  English  monarchs,  when 
dealing  with  the  Irish  people,  Henry,  urged  by  his  greedy 
dependants  in  Ireland,  soon  found  means  to  grossly  vio- 
late the  Treaty  of  Windsor,  as  the  compact  between  the 
representatives  of  Roderick  and  himself  was  called,  thus 
vitiating  it  forever  and  absolving  the  Irish  nation  from 
observing  any  of  its  provisions.  Another  fierce  rebellion 
followed,  in  which  the  southern  and  western  Irish — the 
Anglo-Normans  having  now  grown  more  numerous  and 
powerful — were  remorselessly  crushed.  Roderick's  ras- 
cally son,  Prince  Murrough  O' Conor,  who  thought  his 
father  should  be  satisfied  with  the  titular  High  Kingship, 
and  that  he  himself  should  be  King  of  Connaught,  rose 
in  revolt  and  attempted  to  seize  the  provincial  crown. 
The  Connacians,  indignant  at  his  baseness,  stood  by  the 
old  king.  Murrough  was  defeated  and  received  condign 
punishment.  This  bad  prince  must  have  been  familiar 
with  the  unseemly  course  pursued  by  the  sons  of  Henry 
II  in  Normandy,  for  he  allied  himself  with  his  country's, 
and  his  father's,  enemies,  the  Anglo-Normans,  under  the 
treacherous  De  Cogan,  and  this  act,  more  even  than  his 
filial  impiety,  inflamed  the  minds  of  his  countrymen 
against  the  unnatural  miscreant.  King  Roderick,  un- 

78  The  People's  History  of  Ireland 

happy  man,  whose  pride  was  mortally  wounded,  and 
whose  paternal  heart,  tender  and  manly,  was  wrung  with 
sorrow  at  the  crime  of  his  son  and  its  punishment — de- 
creed by  the  Clans  and  not  by  himself — disgusted,  be- 
sides, with  the  hopeless  condition  of  Irish  affairs,  made 
up  his  mind  to  retire  from  the  world,  its  pomps  and 
vexations.  He  repaired  to  the  ancient  monastery  of 
Cong,  in  Galway,  and  there,  after  twelve  years  of  pious 
devotion,  on  the  29th  day  of  November,  1 198,  in  the  82d 
year  of  his  age,  this  good  and  noble  but  irresolute  mon- 
arch surrendered  his  soul  to  God.  He  was  not  buried  at 
Cong,  as  some  annalists  have  asserted,  but  in  the  chancel 
of  the  Temple  Mor,  or  Great  Church,  of  Clonmacnois, 
in  the  present  King's  County,  where  he  was  educated. 
Tradition  has  failed  to  preserve  the  location  of  the  exact 
place  of  sepulture  within  the  ruined  shrine.  And  so 
ended  the  last  Ard-Righ,  or  High  King,  that  had  swayed 
the  sceptre  of  an  independent  Ireland. 

King  Henry's  claim  that  the  Irish  Church  needed  great 
reformation  is  disproved  by  the  enactments  of  his  own 
reign  in  that  connection,  viz.:  i.  That  the  prohibition  of 
marriage  within  the  canonical  degrees  of  consanguinity 
be  enforced.  2.  That  children  should  be  regularly  cate- 
chized before  the  church  door  in  each  parish.  3.  That 
children  should  be  baptized  in  the  public  fonts  of  the 
parish  churches.  4.  That  regular  tithes  should  be  paid 
to  the  clergy,  rather  than  irregular  donations  from  time 
to  time.  5.  That  church  lands  should  be  exempt  from 
the  exaction  of  livery  and  other  burdens.  6.  That  the 
clergy  should  not  be  liable  to  any  share  of  the  eric,  or 
blood  fine,  levied  off  the  kindred  of  a  man  guilty  of 
homicide.  7.  A  decree  regulating  the  making  of  wills. 

The  People's  History  of  Ireland  79 

Surely,  this  was  small  ground  on  which  to  justify  the 
invasion  of  an  independent  country  and  the  destruction 
of  its  liberty! 


Prince"  John  "Lackland"  Created  "Lord"  of  Ireland — Splendid 
Heroism  of  Sir  Armoricus  Tristram 

HENRY  II,  whatever  may  have  been  his  original  in- 
tentions toward  Ireland  and  the  Irish,  soon  after  his 
return  to  England  assumed  the  tone  of  a  conqueror  and 
dictator.  He  forgot,  or  appeared  to  forget,  the  treaty 
he  had  concluded  with  King  Roderick's  representatives 
at  Windsor,  which  distinctly  recognized  the  tributary 
sovereignty  of  the  Irish  monarch,  and  left  the  bulk  of 
the  Irish  people  under  the  sway  of  their  own  native  laws 
and  rulers.  Now,  however,  he,  in  defiance  of  the  com- 
monest law  of  honor,  proclaimed  his  weakest  and  worst 
son,  the  infamous  John,  "Lord"  of  Ireland — a  title  re- 
tained by  the  English  kings  down  to  the  reign  of  Henry 
VIII,  who,  being  a  wily  politician,  contrived  to  get  him- 
self "elected"  as  "King  of  Ireland."  This  title  remained 
with  the  English  monarchs  until  January  i,  1801,  when 
the  ill-starred  legislative  union  went  into  effect,  and 
George  III  of  England  became  king  of  the  so-called 
"United  Kingdom  of  Great  Britain  and  Ireland." 

Henry  II  died  in  1189,  preceding  the  Irish  king  he 
had  so  deeply  wronged  to  the  grave  by  about  nine  years. 
His  last  hours  were  doubly  imbittered  by  the  discovery 
that  his  youngest  son,  John,  who  was  also  his  favorite, 
and  in  whom  he  had  concentred  all  his  paternal  love 
and  confidence,  was  leagued  with  his  enemies.  An  able5 

8o  The  People's  History   of  Ireland 

but  thoroughly  bad,  man,  Henry  Plantagenet  died  a  mis- 
erable death — his  heart  rilled  with  rage  against  his  own 
rebellious  offspring,  who,  no  doubt,  only  practiced  the 
perfidious  policy  inculcated  by  their  miserable  father. 
The  death  scene  occurred  at  Chinon,  in  Aquitaine,  and 
his  last  words,  uttered  in  the  French  tongue,  and  despite 
the  vehement  protests  of  the  surrounding  ecclesiastics, 
were,  "Accursed  be  the  day  on  which  I  was  born,  and 
accursed  of  God  be  the  sons  I  leave  after  me!"  His 
curse  did  not  fall  on  sticks  and  stones.  All  of  his  guilty 
sons,  except  John,  died  violent  and  untimely  deaths. 
Lackland,  the  exception,  died  of  an  overdose  of  pears 
and  fresh  cider,  added  to  grief  over  the  loss  of  his  treas- 
ure, which  sunk  in  a  quicksand  while  he  was  marching 
with  his  guard  along  the  English  coast.  Henry's  curse 
remained  with  the  Plantagenets  to  the  end,  and  most 
of  the  princes  of  that  family  met  a  horrible  doom,  from 
Edward  II,  foully  murdered  in  Berkeley  Castle,  to  the 
last  male  Plantagenet,  of  legitimate  origin,  the  Earl  of 
Warwick,  beheaded  by  order  of  Henry  VII  in  1499. 
Strongbow,  Henry's  chief  tool  in  the  acquirement  of 
Ireland,  died  of  a  dreadful  blood  malady,  which,  the 
doctors  said,  resembled  leprosy,  some  years  before  the 
king.  He  is  buried  in  Christ  Church  Cathedral,  Dublin, 
and  beside  him  are  said  to  rest  the  relics  of  his  only  son, 
killed  by  the  ferocious  father's  hand,  because  he  fled 
from  the  Irish  in  some  border  battle. 

Before  closing  this  chapter  we  may  be  allowed  to  re- 
mark that  Richard  III,  when  he  had  his  nephews  mur- 
dered in  the  Tower  of  London,  in  1483,  came  legitimately 
by  his  cruel  nature.  John  Lackland  was  the  progenitor  of 
all  the  Plantagenets  who  succeeded  him  on  the  English 

The  People's   History  of  [reland  81 

throne,  and,  like  his  direct  descendant,  Richard  Crook- 
back,  was  a  usurper,  because  Prince  Arthur,  son  of  his 
elder  brother,  Geoffrey  Plantagenet,  was  lineal  heir  to 
the  throne.  History  and  tradition  agree  in  saying  that 
John  caused  Prince  Arthur  to  be  murdered,  and  some 
historians  say  that  he  was  the  actual  murderer.  He  was 
the  only  coward  of  his  race,  and  was,  also,  frivolous  and 
deliberately  ill-mannered.  When  on  a  visit  to  Ireland,  in 
the  supposed  interest  of  his  father,  he  caused  a  revolt 
among  the  Irish  chiefs  who  called  upon  him,  by  pulling 
their  long  beards  and  otherwise  insulting  them.  Those 
cringing  chiefs  deserved  the  treatment  they  received, 
but  John  Lackland,  as  he  was  dubbed,  is  not,  therefore, 
excusable  for  having  acted  toward  them  as  a  boor  and 
a  ruffian.  Later  on,  when  he  became  King  of  England, 
he  again  visited  Ireland,  and  built  many  strong  castles. 
That  of  Limerick,  called  King  John's  Castle,  is  still  almost 
perfectly  preserved,  and  is  a  superb  relic  of  Norman  mili- 
tary architecture.  As  the  Irish  were  not  provided  with 
armament,  or  appliances,  for  making  a  successful  siege, 
the  fortresses  built  by  King  John  were,  so  far  as  they 
were  concerned,  virtually  impregnable.  Whenever  the 
Normans  were  vanquished  in  the  field,  they  retired  to 
their  castles,  which  were  amply  provisioned,  and  defied 
the  vengeance  of  their  foes. 

In  the  last  year  of  the  reign  of  Henry  II,  there  oc- 
curred in  Ireland  one  of  those  memorable  combats  which 
deserve  a  lasting  place  in  history,  not  so  much  because  of 
any  important  reform  or  social  or  political  blessing  of 
any  kind  resulting  from  them,  but  as  tending  to  show  that 
warrior  men,  in  all  ages,  have  often  been  chivalrous  and 
self-sacrificing.  The  Norman  race — glorious  as  has  been 

82  The   People's   History  of  Ireland 

its  record  all  over  Europe  and  Palestine — never  evinced 
greater  bravery  than  on  the  bloody  field  of  Knocktuagh 
(Nockthoo),  "the  Hill  of  Axes,"  in  Galway,  A.D.  1189. 
Sir  John  de  Courcy,  hard  pressed  in  Ulster  by  the  fiercely 
resisting  septs  of  the  north,  asked  aid  from  his  sworn 
friend  and  comrade,  Sir  Armoricus  Tristram — ancestor 
of  the  family  of  St.  Lawrence,  Earls  of  Howth — then 
serving  in  Connaught.  Tristram  had  with  him,  accord- 
ing to  some  accounts,  thirty  knights,  one  hundred  men- 
at-arms,  mounted,  and  one  hundred  light-armed  infantry ; 
according  to  other  statements,  he  had  under  his  com- 
mand thirty  cavalry  and  two  hundred  foot.  This  force 
Cathal  O'Conor,  afterward  known  as  "the  Red-Handed," 
Prince  of  the  royal  house  of  Connaught — a  most  valiant 
and  skilful  general,  who  was  younger  brother,  bom  out 
of  wedlock,  of  King  Roderick,  then  virtually  in  the  retire- 
ment of  the  cloisters  of  Cong  Abbey — led  into  an  am- 
bush, and  attacked  with  a  superior  force.  Sir  Armoricus 
saw  at  a  glance  that  escape  was  hopeless,  and  that  only 
one  refuge  was  left  for  him  and  his  following — to  die 
with  honor.  Some  of  his  horsemen,  tradition  says,  pro- 
posed to  cut  their  way  out  and  leave  the  infantry  to  their 
fate.  Against  this  mean  proposition  Sir  Armor's  brother 
and  other  knights  vehemently  protested.  "We  have  been 
together  in  many  dangers,"  they  said;  "now  let  all  of  us 
fight  and  die  together."  Sir  Armor,  by  way  of  answer, 
alighted  from  his  steed,  drew  his  sword  and,  with  it, 
pierced  the  noble  charger  to  the  heart.  All  the  other 
horsemen,  except  two  youths,  who  were  detailed  to  watch 
the  fight  from  a  distant  hill,  and  report  the  result  to  De 
Courcy  in  Ulster,  immediately  followed  their  glorious 
leader's  example.  Tradition  asserts  that  the  two  young 

The  People's  History  of  Ireland  83 

men  who  made  their  escape,  by  order,  were  Sir  Armori- 
cus's  son  and  the  squire  of  De  Courcy,  who  brought  the 
latter's  message  to  Tristram.  Having  completed  the 
slaughter  of  their  horses,  the  little  band  of  Normans 
formed  themselves  in  a  phalanx,  and  marched  boldly  to 
attack  the  outnumbering  Irish.  The  latter  met  the  shock 
with  their  usual  courage,  but  the  enemy,  clad  in  armor, 
cut  their  way  deeply  and  fatally  into  the  crowded  ranks 
of  their  cloth-clad  foes.  The  Irish  poet,  Arthur  Gerald 
Geoghegan  (Geh'ogan),  thus  graphically  and  truthfully 
describes  the  dreadful  encounter : 

"Then  rose  the  roar  of  battle  loud,  the  shout,  the  cheer,  the  cry ! 
The  clank  of  ringing  steel,  the  gasping  groans  of  those  who  die ', 
Yet  onward  still  the  Norman  band  right  fearless  cut  their  way, 
As  move  the  mowers  o'er  the  sward  upon  a  summer's  day. 

"For  round  them  there,  like  shorn  grass,  the  foe  in  hundreds  bleed; 
Yet,  fast  as  e'er  they  fall,  each  side,  do  hundreds  more  succeed; 
With  naked  breasts  undaunted  meet  the  spears  of  steel-clad  men, 
And  sturdily,  with  axe  and  skian,  repay  their  blows  again. 

"Now  crushed  with  odds,  their  phalanx  broke,  each  Norman  fights 


And  few  are  left  throughout  the  field,  and  they  are  feeble  grown, 
But  high  o'er  all,  Sir  Tristram's  voice  is  like  a  trumpet  heard, 
And  still,  where'er  he  strikes,  the  foemen  sink  beneath  his  sword. 

"But  once  he  raised  his  visor  up— alas,  it  was  to  try 

If  Hamo  and  his  boy  yet  tarried  on  the  mountain  nigh, 

When  sharp  an  arrow  from  the  foe  pierced  right  through  his  brain, 

And  sank  the  gallant  knight  a  corse  upon  the  bloody  plain. 

"Then  failed  the  fight,  for  gathering  round  his  lifeless  body  there, 
The  remnant  of  his  gallant  band  fought  fiercely  in  despair; 
And,  one  by  one,  they  wounded  fell — yet  with  their  latest  breath, 
Their  Norman  war-cry  shouted  bold — then  sank  in  silent  death." 

When  Cathal  Mor  finally  became  King  of  Connaught, 
he  caused  a  monastery,  which  he  called  "the  Abbey  of 

84  The  People's  History  of  Ireland 

Victory,"  but  which  has  been  known  to  the  Irish  of  Con- 
naught  for  ages  as  "Abbey  Knockmoy,"  to  be  erected  on 
or  near  the  site  of  the  battle.  Tradition,  not  a  very  reli- 
able guide,  fails  to  exactly  define  the  scene  of  Cathal's 
victory  over  the  Normans.  Knocktuagh,  an  inconsiderable 
eminence,  is  within  a  few  miles  of  the  city  of  Galway, 
whereas  Knockmoy,  where  stands  the  historic  abbey,  is 
fully  twelve  miles  east  of  that  ancient  borough,  on  the 
highroad  to  Athlone.  Cathal  of  the  Red  Hand  fought 
many  battles  and  won  many  splendid  victories,  although 
he  occasionally  sustained  defeats  at  the  hands  of  the  Nor- 
mans and  their  traitorous  native  allies;  his  greatest  vic- 
tory was  won  over  his  bitter  rival,  albeit  his  nephew, 
Caher  Carragh  O'Conor,  whom  he  encountered  some- 
where in  the  county  of  Galway.  There  was  an  awful 
slaughter  on  both  sides,  but  Cathal  prevailed,  and,  no 
doubt,  built  the  abbey  on  the  spot  where  Caher  and  his 
leading  chieftains,  Irish  and  Norman,  fell.  De  Courcy 
was  the  only  foreigner  allied  with  Cathal  Mor  in  this 
great  battle.  Abbey  Knockmoy  is  one  of  the  most  inter- 
esting of  Irish  ruins,  and  contains  friezes  and  frescoing 
most  creditable  to  Irish  art  in  the  thirteenth  century. 
The  victory  gave  Cathal  Mor  the  undisputed  sway  of 
Connaught.  Adopting  the  policy  of  the  invaders,  foi? 
the  benefit  of  his  country,  he  used  Norman  against  Nor- 
man; allied  himself  with  Meyler  FitzHenry,  the  last  of 
Strongbow's  lieutenants,  to  punish  Connaught's  invet- 
erate foe,  William  de  Burgo,  ancestor  of  the  Clanricardes 
in  Limerick,  and  to  humble  the  pride  of  the  ambitious 
De  Lacys  in  Leinster.  In  1210,  this  gallant  Irish  mon- 
arch compelled  King  John  of  England  to  treat  with  him 
as  an  independent  sovereign,  and,  while  he  lived,  no 

The  People's  History  of  Ireland  85 

Norman  usurper  dared  to  lord  it  over  his  kingdom  of 
Connaught.  Like  his  royal  father  and  brother,  he  was 
a  champion  of  the  Irish  Church,  and  was  a  liberal  founder 
and  endower  of  religious  houses.  Had  the  Connacian 
kings  who  followed  been  of  his  moral  and  military  calibre, 
the  Normans  could  never  have  ruled  in  Connaught.  Nor 
did  this  great  Irishman  confine  himself  to  his  native 
kingdom  alone;  he  also  assisted  the  other  provinces  in 
resisting  foreign  encroachment.  Even  in  his  old  age, 
when  the  De  Lacys  tried  to  embarrass  his  reign  by  for- 
tifying Athleague,  so  as  to  threaten  him  in  flank,  the 
dauntless  hero,  at  the  head  of  his  hereditary  power, 
marched  from  his  palace  of  Ballintober,  made  two  cross- 
ings of  the  river  Suck,  and,  by  a  bold  manoeuvre,  came  on 
the  rear  of  the  enemy,  compelling  them  to  retreat  in  all 
haste  across  the  Shannon  into  Leinster.  He  did  not  fail 
to  raze  their  forts  at  Athleague  to  the  ground.  This  was 
the  last  of  his  countless  exploits.  His  time  was  drawing 
nigh,  and,  according  to  the  Four  Masters,  "signs  ap- 
peared in  the  heavens"  which  foretold  his  death.  In 
1223,  Cathal's  load  of  age  and  care  became  too  heavy, 
and  he  resigned  the  crown  of  Connaught  to  his  son,  Hugh. 
The  old  king,  assuming  the  habit  of  the  Franciscans,  re- 
tired to  the  Abbey  of  Knockmoy,  and  there  expired, 
mourned  by  his  country  and  respected  by  its  enemies, 
A.D.  1224.  Tradition  still  points  to  his  tomb  amid  the 
majestic  ruins  of  that  venerable  pile.  His  death  was  the 
signal  for  the  rise  of  Norman  power  in  Connaught,  and 
for  the  final  deposition  by  the  alien  De  Burgos  of  the 
royal  race  of  O'Conor. 

86  The  People's  History  of  Ireland 


Ireland  Under  the  Earlier  Edwards — The  Younger  Bruce  Elected 

King  by  the  Irish — Battle  of  Athenry — Death  of  Bruce 

at  Faughart  Hill 

AFTER  the  death  of  King  John,  affairs  in  Ireland 
proceeded  tamely  enough  until  the  repeated  encroach- 
ments of  the  Anglo-Norman  settlers  and  their  progeny, 
who  occupied  chiefly  a  comparatively  small  district  called 
"the  Pale,"  which  consisted  of  most  of  the  present  coun- 
ties of  Dublin,  Louth,  Meath,  Westmeath,  Kildare,  and 
Kilkenny,  forced  the  native  Irish  to  rise  "in  rude  but 
fierce  array"  against  them.  The  Norman  family  of 
De  Lacy  disputed  supremacy  in  Leinster  with  the  Fitz- 
geralds,  or  Geraldines,  but  the  latter,  finally,  outshone 
their  rivals  both  in  court  and  camp.  The  De  Courcys, 
headed  by  the  bold  and  chivalrous  Sir  John,  "of  that 
ilk,"  made  some  impression  on  the  coast  of  Ulster.  The 
De  Burgos,  ancestors  of  all  the  Irish  Burkes,  became  pow- 
erful in  Connaught,  and  the  old  Irish,  headed  by  the 
O'Conors,  fought  against  them  fiercely  from  time  to  time. 
But  the  gallant,  if  covetous,  Norman  captains  beheld  the 
Irish  maidens,  and  saw  that  they  were  fair.  Love-mak- 
ing, despite  frequent  feuds,  progressed  between  Norman 
lord  and  Celtic  virgin;  and  not  uncommonly  between 
Irish  prince  and  Norman  lady.  Many  "mixed  mar- 
riages*' resulted,  and,  naturally,  racial  animosities  became 
greatly  softened,  "for  love  will  still  be  lord  of  all." 
Very  soon  the  warrior  Normans,  who  acknowledged  but 

The  People's   History  of  Ireland  87 

a  doubtful  allegiance  to  the  English  monarch,  began  to 
assume  Irish  manners,  wear  the  Irish  costume,  and  speak 
in  the  Gaelic  tongue.  All  this  did  not  suit  the  English 
policy,  and  the  Norman  Irish  were  often  described  by 
their  kindred  across  the  sea  as  "Degenerate  English." 
It  was  written  of  the  Fitzgeralds,  in  particular,  that  they 
had  grown  "more  Irish  than  the  Irish."  This  alarmed 
England,  for  it  began  to  look  as  if  Norman  and  Celt  in 
Ireland  would  soon  make  common  cause  against  her 
power.  But  many  Norman  chiefs  were  land  hungry, 
and  many  of  the  Irish  princes  were  fierce  and  filled  with 
a  just  wrath  against  their  invaders.  Gradually,  there- 
fore, the  Geraldines  swept  all  before  them  in  Kildare 
and  Desmond,  for  they  were  very  warlike,  and  many 
native  Irish  joined  their  fortunes  to  theirs,  because  of 
"fosterage"  and  other  interests.  The  Butlers  possessed 
themselves  of  large  tracts  of  country  in  the  present  coun- 
ties of  Kilkenny  and  Tipperary,  and  became  Earls  of 
Ormond;  and  the  De  Burgos,  as  Earls  of  Clanricarde, 
became,  in  great  part,  masters  of  Galway,  Mayo,  and 
other  parts  of  the  province  of  Connaught.  Factions 
among  the  Celtic  chiefs  made  their  conquests  easy.  The 
Normans,  wily  as  they  were  brave,  fostered  these  feuds, 
and  were  particularly  delighted  when  the  formidable 
O'Neills  and  O'Donnells  of  Ulster  wasted  their  strength 
in  internecine  strife.  The  politic  foreigners  occasion- 
ally allied  themselves  to  either  one  of  the  contending 
septs,  and  generally  succeeded  in  outwitting  both  con- 
testants. Yet,  as  time  wore  on,  the  Norman  warriors, 
forgetting  their  fathers'  speech,  shouted  their  battle  cries 
in  the  Gaelic  tongue,  and,  except  for  their  armor,  could 
hardly  be  distinguished  from  the  Celts. 

Ireland— 5  VoL  L. 

88  The  People's  History  of  Ireland 

Henry  III  paid  but  small  attention  to  Irish  affairs. 
He  ascended  the  English  throne  a  minor,  and  his  mature 
years  were  spent  mainly  in  repeated  civil  wars  with  his 
barons,  who  finally  compelled  him  to  extend  and  confirm 
the  Magna  Charta  of  his  father.  His  son,  Edward  I, 
nicknamed  "Long  Shanks,"  the  ablest  king  of  the  Plan- 
tagenet  race,  was  almost  constantly  occupied,  during  his 
stirring  reign,  in  wars  of  conquest  against  Wales  and 
Scotland,  and  he  succeeded  in  annexing  the  first-named 
country  to  the  English  crown.  His  son  and  successor, 
Edward  II,  was  the  first  English  Prince  of  Wales.  This 
Edward  inherited  the  Scotch  war  which  his  father  had 
left  unfinished,  after  great  effusion  of  blood.  In  1314, 
his  great  English  army,  said  to  have  numbered  100,000 
knights,  archers,  and  men-at-arms,  was  disastrously 
routed  at  Bannockburn  ("Oaten-cake  rivulet"),  near 
Sterling,  by  King  Robert  Bruce,  of  Scotland,  who  had 
under  his  command  not  more  than  30,000  men,  horse  and 
foot.  This  great  victory  did  not  entirely  end  the  Anglo- 
Scotch  wars,  which  were  always  bitter  and  bloody  down 
to  the  close  of  the  sixteenth  century,  but  it  preserved  the 
independence  of  Scotland  for  nearly  four  hundred  years. 
That  country  ceased  to  be  a  separate  nation  in  1707. 
Many  Irish  clans  of  Ulster  aided  Bruce  at  Bannockburn, 
and  some  Connaught  septs,  under  one  of  the  O'Conors, 
fought  on  the  English  side,  and  were  nearly  extermi- 
nated, which  "served  them  right."  As  the  Irish  princes 
could  not  settle  on  one  of  their  own  number  for  High 
King,  they,  at  the  suggestion  of  the  wise  and  generous 
Donald  O'Neill,  King  of  Ulster,  agreed  to  elect  Edward 
Bruce,  brother  of  the  Scotch  monarch,  king  of  all  Ire- 
land. Their  proffer  of  the  Irish  throne  was  accepted  by 

The  People's  History  of  Ireland  89 

the  Bruces,  and  Edward  was  duly  crowned  in  1315. 
This  provoked  a  destructive  three  years'  war.  Brave 
King  Robert  came  to  Ireland  to  aid  his  brother,  and,  in 
the  field,  they  swept  all  before  them,  particularly  in 
Munster.  But  the  Norman-Irish  fought  them  bitterly, 
notably  the  Geraldines,  the  Berminghams,  and  De  Burgos. 
Felim  O'Conor,  the  young  and  gallant  king  of  Connaught, 
was  forced  into  a  repugnant  alliance  with  De  Burgo, 
who  was  powerful  in  the  west.  His  heart,  however,  was 
with  the  Bruce,  and  he  soon  found  an  opportunity  to 
break  away  from  his  repugnant  Norman  ally.  Sum- 
moning all  his  fighting  force,  he  marched  upon  the  forti- 
fied town  of  Athunree,  or  Athenry,  "the  Ford  of  the 
Kings,"  in  Gal  way,  and  came  up  with  the  Anglo-Norman 
army,  arrayed  outside  the  walls,  on  the  morning  of  Au- 
gust 10,  1316.  De  Burgo  and  De  Bermingham,  two  able 
veteran  soldiers,  headed  the  Anglo-Normans.  The  con- 
flict was  fierce  and  the  slaughter  appalling,  particularly 
on  the  Irish  side,  because  the  heroic  clansmen  did  not 
have,  like  their  foes,  the  advantage  of  chain  armor  and 
long-bow  archery.  Night  closed  upon  a  terrible  scene. 
The  Irish  refused  to  fly  and  died  in  heaps  around  the  life- 
less body  of  their  chivalric  young  king,  who,  with  twenty- 
eight  princes  of  his  house,  proudly  fell  on  that  bloody 
field.  Most  of  the  Irish  army  perished — the  loss  being 
usually  estimated  at  10,000  men.  The  Anglo-Normans 
also  suffered  severely,  but  their  armor  proved  the  salva- 
tion of  most  of  them.  Connaught  did  not  recover  from 
this  great  disaster  for  many  generations.  Athenry  proved 
fatal  to  the  cause  of  Bruce,  although,  gallantly  seconded 
by  Donald  O'Neill,  he  fought  on  for  two  years  longer, 
but  was  at  last  killed  in  battle  on  Faughart  Hill,  in  Louth, 

90  The  People's  History  of  Ireland 

A.D.   1318.     With  him  disappeared,  for  that  century  at 
least,  the  hope  of  an  independent  Ireland. 

After  the  battle  of  Athenry,  the  power  of  the  De 
Burgo  family,  and  of  all  the  allies  of  their  house,  be- 
came predominant  in  Connaught,  but  all  these  Anglo- 
Norman  chiefs  became,  also,  much  more  Irish  in  manners 
and  sympathy  than  they  had  ever  been  before.  The  des- 
perate bravery  displayed  by  O'Conor's  clansmen  had 
aroused  the  admiration  of  those  born  warriors,  and  they 
felt  that  to  ally  themselves  in  marriage  with  so  martial 
a  race  was  an  honor,  not  a  degradation,  such  as  the 
English  sought  to  make  it  appear.  Ulster  maintained 
its  independence,  and  so  also  did  much  of  Connaught  and 
portions  of  Munster  and  Leinster,  and  there  were  peri- 
odical raids  upon  the  Pale  and  carrying  off  of  "Saxon" 
flocks  and  herds,  followed  by  feasts  and  general  jubila- 
tion. The  Palesmen,  whenever  too  weak  to  meet  the 
Celts  in  the  field,  would  resort  to  their  time-honored 
strategy  of  shutting  themselves  up  in  their  strongholds, 
and  making,  whenever  opportunity  offered,  fierce  retalia- 
tory raids  on  the  Irish  territory.  This  kind  of  warfare 
was  unfortunate  for  Ireland,  because  it  kept  the  English 
feeling  strong  in  the  hearts  of  the  Palesmen,  who  were 
constantly  recruited  by  fresh  swarms  of  adventurers  from 
England.  Outside  of  the  Pale,  however,  the  Old  Irish 
and  the  Normans  continued  to  affiliate  and  intermarry, 
as  we  have  already  said.  Fosterage — a  peculiarly  Irish 
custom,  which  meant  that  the  children  of  the  king,  prince, 
or  chief  should  be  nursed  by  the  wives  of  the  clansmen, 
instead  of  their  own  mothers — grew  apace,  and  nearly 
every  Norman  lord  had  his  heirs  suckled  by  the  women 
of  the  Celtic  race,  thus  creating  a  bond  of  "kinship" — 

The  People's  History  of  Ireland  91 

if  so  it  may  be  termed — in  many  instances  stronger  than 
even  the  brotherhood  of  blood. 

Irish  tradition  abounds  in  examples  of  the  devotion  of 
foster-brethren  to  each  other;  and  in  all  written  history 
there  is  given  but  one  instance  of  treachery  in  this  con- 
nection, and  that  instance  does  not  involve  a  man  of 
Celtic,  but  of  Latin,  lineage.  We  refer  to  the  betrayal 
of  Lord  Thomas  Fitzgerald  by  Parez  in  the  reign  of 
Henry  VIII,  which  will  be  dealt  with  in  the  proper  place. 


Prince  Lionel  Viceroy  for  Edward  III — The  Statute  of  Kilkenny 

EDWARD  III,  that  valiant,  vigorous,  and  ambitious 
"English"  king — he  was  almost  a  pure-blooded 
Frenchman  and  about  the  last  Norman  monarch  who 
occupied  the  throne  of  England  that  did  not  speak  with 
fluency  the  language  of  the  people  he  governed — was  so 
occupied  with  his  unjust  wars  against  France  that  he 
gave  but  small  heed  to  Irish  affairs  and  never  visited  the 
island  at  all.  But  he  sent  over  his  third  son,  Prince 
Lionel,  ancestor  of  the  royal  house  of  York  and  Clarence, 
as  viceroy.  Lionel  had  with  him  a  well-equipped  army  of 
native-born  English,  but  he  treated  his  Anglo-Irish  allies 
so  contemptuously  that  many  fell  away  from  him  and 
joined  the  ranks  of  the  Old  Irish.  His  English  army, 
unaccustomed  to  the  Irish  climate  and  mode  of  warfare, 
made  but  a  poor  figure  in  the  field,  and  was  everywhere 
beaten  by  the  dauntless  Irish  clansmen.  At  last  he  was 
compelled  to  lower  his  imperious  tone  to  the  Anglo-Irish 
and  these  foolishly  helped  him  out  of  his  scrape.  It  is 

92  The  People's  History  of  Ireland 

said  that  a  more  than  doubtful  campaign  in  the  present 
county  of  Clare  procured  for  him,  from  his  flatterers, 
the  title  of  Duke  of  Clarence — a  title,  by  the  way,  which 
brought  more  or  less  misfortune  to  every  English  prince 
who  has  borne  it,  except  William  IV,  from  his  day  to 
our  own. 

Lionel  was  particularly  jealous  of  the  friendship  which 
seemed  to  exist  between  old  Anglo-Irish  and  the  old 
Celtic-Irish,  and  his  small  mind  conceived  a  method  of 
putting  an  end  to  it.  He  summoned  a  parliament  to  meet 
at  Kilkenny,  and  there  it  was  enacted,  among  other 
things,  "that  all  intermarriages,  fosterings,  gossipred, 
and  buying  or  selling  with  the  (Irish)  enemy  shall  be 
accounted  treason;  that  English  names,  fashions,  and 
manners  (most  of  these  having  disappeared)  shall  be 
resumed  under  penalty  of  confiscation  of  the  delinquent's 
lands;  that  March  laws  (Norman)  and  Brehon  laws 
(Irish)  are  illegal,  and  that  there  shall  be  no  laws  but 
English  laws;  that  the  Irish  shall  not  pasture  their  cattle 
on  English  lands;  that  the  English  shall  not  entertain 
Irish  rhymers,  minstrels,  or  newsmen,  and,  moreover, 
that  no  'mere  Irishman'  shall  be  admitted  to  any  ecclesi- 
astical benefice  or  religious  house  (England  was  then  all 
Catholic)  situated  within  the  English  district." 

Other  provisions  of  the  Statute  of  Kilkenny,  as  this 
precious  "law"  is  called  in  Irish  history,  forbade  the 
wearing  of  long  hair,  mustaches,  and  cloaks,  after  the 
manner  of  the  Irish,  and  the  use  of  the  Gaelic  speech 
was  also  forbidden,  under  heavy  penalties.  With  their 
usual  subserviency  to  English  demands,  the  Anglo-Irish 
barons  of  the  Pale — the  portion  of  Ireland  held  by  the 
English  settlers,  as  already  explained — passed  this  bar- 

The  People's  History  of  Ireland  93 

barous  enactment  without  opposition,  although  they 
themselves  were  the  chief  "offenders"  against  it,  in  the 
eyes  of  the  tyrannical  viceroy. 

To  the  honor  of  the  Anglo-Normans  and  Celtic-Irish 
be  it  remembered,  the  base  statute  became  almost  imme- 
diately inoperative,  and  the  Norman  lords  and  Irish 
ladies,  and  the  Irish  princes  and  the  Norman  ladies,  in- 
termarried more  numerously  than  before — an  example 
generally  followed  by  their  dependants.  The  gallant 
house  of  Fitzgerald,  or  Geraldine,  as  usual,  set  the  ex- 
ample of  disregard. 

"These   Geraldines!     These    Geraldines!     Not   long   her   air   they 

breathed — 

Not  long  they  fed  on  venison  in  Irish  water  seethed — 
Not  often  had  their  children  been  by  Irish  mothers  nursed, 
When  from  their  full  and  genial  hearts  an  Irish  feeling  burst! 
The  English  monarch  strove  in  vain,  by  law  and  force  and  bribe, 
To  win  from  Irish  thoughts  and  ways  this  'more  than  Irish'  tribe; 
For  still  they  clung  to  fosterage — to  Brehon,  cloak,  and  bard — • 
No  king  dare  say  to  Geraldine :  'Your  Irish  wife  discard !' " 

The  immediate  effect  of  the  Statute  of  Kilkenny  was 
to  temporarily  unite  most  of  the  Irish  clans  against  the 
common  enemy.  They  fell  fiercely  upon  the  Pale  and 
again  shut  up  the  Normans  in  their  fortresses.  Prince 
Lionel  returned  to  England  grieved  and  humiliated.  His 
viceroyalty  had  been  a  signal  failure. 

Throughout  the  viceroyalty  of  Clarence  and  his  suc- 
cessor, William  de  Windsor,  the  desultory  war  between 
the  Old  Irish  and  the  Anglo-Normans  made  many  dis- 
tricts, in  all  the  provinces,  red  with  slaughter.  The  power 
of  the  De  Burgos  declined  in  Connaught  after  the  death 
of  the  warlike  Red  Earl,  who  was  the  scourge  of  the 
O' Conors,  and  the  latter  family  brought  his  descendants, 

94  "The  People's  History  of  Ireland 

who  had  assumed  the  name  of  Mac  William,  under  their 
sway.  The  fierce  tribes  of  Wicklow,  Wexford,  and  Car- 
low  harried  the  Pale,  and  were  frequently  joined  by  the 
O' Mores  of  Leix,  and  the  Fitzpatricks  of  Ossory.  In 
Ulster,  Niel  O'Neill,  Prince  of  Tyrone,  attacked  and  de- 
feated the  English  armies  and  garrisons  with  so  much 
success  that  he  cleared  Ulster  of  all  foreigners,  and  won 
the  title  of  Niel  the  Great.  The  Earl  of  Desmond  met 
with  a  severe  defeat  at  the  hands  of  O'Brien,  Prince  of 
Thomond,  who  assailed  him  near  the  abbey  of  Adare 
in  Limerick,  and  routed  his  army  with  terrible  carnage. 
Desmond  himself  was  mortally  wounded  and  died  upon 
the  field.  The  Earl  of  Kildare,  Desmond's  kinsman,  at- 
tempted to  avenge  his  rout,  but  met  with  scant  success, 
because  the  Irish  had,  by  this  time,  grown  used  to  the 
Norman  method  of  warfare,  and,  in  many  cases,  im- 
proved upon  the  tactics  of  their  oppressors. 

Edward  III,  just  before  his  death  in  1376,  attempted 
to  get  the  settlements  of  the  Pale  to  send  representatives 
to  London  to  consult  about  the  affairs  of  Ireland,  but  they 
demurred,  saying  that  it  was  not  their  custom  to  delib- 
erate outside  of  their  own  country.  However,  they  sent 
delegates  to  explain  matters  to  the  king,  who  did  not 
further  insist  on  convening  a  Pale  Parliament  in  the 
English  capital.  It  is  strange  that  so  able  a  monarch 
as  Edward  was,  even  in  his  declining  years,  never  thought 
of  visiting  Ireland.  Of  course,  most  of  his  reign  was 
taken  up  with  the  wars  in  France,  in  which  he  proved 
so  signally  victorious,  and  he  had  but  little  time  for  other 
occupations.  In  truth,  Edward  III,  although  nominally 
English,  was,  in  reality,  a  Frenchman  in  thought  and 
speech,  and  his  dearest  dream  was  to  rule  over  the 

The  People's  History  of  Ireland  95 

country  of  his  Plantagenet  ancestors,  with  England  as  a 
kind  of  tributary  province.  Of  course,  the  English  peo- 
ple would  never  have  acquiesced  in  this  arrangement,  for, 
however  willing  to  impose  their  yoke  on  other  peoples, 
they  are  unalterably  opposed  to  having  any  foreign  yoke 
imposed  upon  themselves. 

Richard  II's  Invasions — Heroic  Art  MacMurrough 

'""PHE  first  half  of  the  fourteenth  century  passed 
A  away  quietly  enough  in  Ireland,  except  for  occa- 
sional conflicts  between  the  Anglo-Normans  and  the 
Celtic  tribes,  or  an  odd  encounter  of  the  latter  with  one 
another.  Edward  III  had  so  many  quarrels  with  Scot- 
land and  France  that  he  could  do  nothing  in  Ireland, 
even  were  he  so  inclined,  and  the  sad  experience  of  the 
Duke  of  Clarence  in  that  country  warned  succeeding 
viceroys  to  let  well  enough  alone.  The  Irish  nation, 
Celtic,  Norman,  and  Saxon,  was  gradually  fusing  and 
would  soon  have  developed  a  composite  strength  nearly 
equal  to  that  of  England  herself.  In  the  wars  with 
France,  many  Anglo-Irish  septs  fought  under  the  orders 
of  Edward,  and,  probably,  some  of  the  Celtic  septs  also 
joined  his  standard,  rather  as  allies,  through  the  bad 
policy  of  their  chiefs,  than  as  mercenaries. 

By  the  time  that  Edward  completed,  or  nearly  so,  the 
conquest  of  France,  the  English  power  in  Ireland  had 
so  shrunken  as  to  be  almost  nominal.  Dublin,  Drogheda, 
Kilkenny,  and  Waterford  were  the  chief  garrisons  of  the 
English.  The  Lacys,  Burkes,  Fitzgeralds,  and  other 

96  The  People's  History  of  Ireland 

Norman-Irish  houses  and  clans  were  scarcely  to  be  dis- 
tinguished from  the  Milesian  families  and  septs.  Such 
fighting  as  they  indulged  in  between  themselves  was 
comparatively  trivial.  The  island,  blessed  with  partial 
peace,  began  to  grow  more  populous  and  prosperous. 
Edward,  the  Black  Prince,  having  crowned  himself  with 
glory  in  France,  died  before  he  could  inherit  the  crown 
of  England.  Edward  III,  not  so  old  as  worn  out  by 
ceaseless  warfare,  died  in  1377,  and  after  him  came  to 
the  English  throne  Richard,  son  of  the  Black  Prince,  a 
handsome  boy  of  sixteen,  who,  at  first,  gave  promise  of 
great  deeds,  but  who  subsequently  proved  himself  a  weak- 
ling and  voluptuary.  In  Ireland,  Ulster,  Connaught,  and 
Munster  remained  tranquil  for  the  most  part,  but,  in 
Leinster,  the  royal  house  of  MacMurrough — lineal  de- 
scendants of  the  traitor  of  Strongbow's  time — showed 
a  determination  to  drive  the  remnant  of  the  English  gar- 
rison into  the  sea.  They  were  as  loyal  to  Ireland  as  their 
accursed  ancestor  had  been  faithless.  King  Art  I,  after 
a  long  series  of  successes  and  failures,  died,  and  was  suc- 
ceeded on  the  Leinster  throne  by  King  Art  II — one  of  the 
bravest,  wisest,  and  truest  characters  in  Irish  history. 
He  continued  the  war  his  father  had  begun.  Richard  II, 
like  all  of  his  race,  was  vain  and  greedy  of  military  glory. 
As  the  war  with  France  had  closed  for  a  period,  he 
thought  Ireland  a  good  field  in  which  to  distinguish  him- 
self as  a  general.  He  had  heard  of  "MacMore,"  as  he 
called  MacMurrough,  and  longed  to  measure  swords  with 
him.  Accordingly,  in  the  summer  of  1394,  he  landed 
at  Waterford  with  a  large  army.  The  historian  McGee 
estimates  it  at  35,000  horse  and  foot,  but  we  are  in- 
clined to  think  it  was  much  less.  That  it  was  formidable, 

The  People's  History  of  Ireland  97 

for  those  times,  all  historians  who  have  dealt  with  the 
subject  are  agreed  upon.  He  was  accompanied,  also,  by 
a  large  retinue  of  nobility,  among  them  Roger  Mortimer, 
the  young  Earl  of  March,  who,  because  of  the  childless- 
ness of  Richard,  was  heir  to  the  British  throne,  through 
descent  from  the  Duke  of  Clarence,  in  the  female  line. 
Richard  did  not  wait  long  in  Waterford,  but  proceeded  on 
his  march  to  Dublin,  unfurling  the  banner  of  Edward  the 
Confessor,  for  whom  the  Irish  were  supposed  to  have  a 
deep  veneration.  MacMurrough,  however,  showed  scant 
courtesy  to  the  Confessor's  ensign,  not  because  it  was  the 
banner  of  a  saint,  but  because,  for  the  time,  it  repre- 
sented the  rapacity  of  England.  Richard  was  met  boldly 
at  every  point.  His  bowmen  got  tangled  up  in  the  woods. 
His  horsemen  floundered  in  the  bogs.  MacMurrough's 
army  hovered  in  his  front,  on  his  flanks,  and  in  rear. 
Not  a  single  success  did  the  English  monarch  gain.  He 
summoned  MacMurrough  to  a  conference  when  he 
reached  Dublin — having  lost  a  third  of  his  army  while 
en  route — and  the  Leinster  king,  having  accepted  the  in- 
vitation, was  ruthlessly  thrown  into  prison.  After  a 
time,  a  treaty  of  some  kind  was  patched  up  between  King 
Richard  and  himself,  and  the  Irish  prince  was  allowed  to 
go  free.  Richard  then  returned  to  England,  leaving 
Roger  Mortimer  in  command.  Soon  afterward,  Mac- 
Murrough, objecting  to  the  English  encroachments  in  his 
territory,  again  rose  in  arms.  He  encountered  Mortimer 
and  the  English  army  on  the  banks  of  the  King's  River  at 
Kenlis  or  Kells  in  Westmeath,  and  utterly  routed  them. 
England's  heir-apparent  was  among  the  slain.  This  cir- 
cumstance had  much  to  do  with  bringing  about  the  bloody 
Wars  of  the  Roses  in  the  succeeding  century. 

98  The  People's  History  of  Ireland 

About  this  time  Art  MacMurrough  and  his  chief  bard, 
who,  as  was  then  the  Irish  custom,  accompanied  his  pa- 
tron everywhere,  were  invited  to  a  banquet  by  one  of  the 
Norman  lords,  who  treacherously  pretended  friendship. 
The  invitation  was  accepted.  While  seated  at  a  window 
of  the  banquet-hall,  the  bard  perceived  a  mustering  of 
troops  around  the  castle,  and  at  once  seized  his  harp  and 
struck  the  chords  to  an  ancient  Irish  air.  The  Gaelic 
words  which  accompanied  the  measure  fell  upon  the  ears 
of  Art  MacMurrough  and  warned  him  of  his  danger. 
His  sword  and  buckler  hung  near  by.  On  some  trivial 
pretext,  he  arose  and  seized  them,  the  bard  having,  mean- 
while, armed  himself.  The  two  made  a  sudden  onslaught 
and,  surprising  their  foes,  cut  their  way  to  the  court- 
yard, where,  fortunately,  their  horses  still  stood.  They 
sprang  upon  them,  and,  before  the  astonished  men-at- 
arms  could  rally,  made  good  their  escape.  Art  Mac- 
Murrough never  again  trusted  the  English,  and  remained 
their  consistent  foe  to  his  latest  hour. 

But  King  Richard,  maddened  by  the  death  of  Morti- 
mer, which  he  felt  was  dangerous  to  himself,  raised  an- 
other great  army,  and,  in  1398,  again  invaded  Ireland. 
He  was  accompanied  by  a  younger  son  of  his  uncle,  John 
of  Gaunt,  "time-honored  Lancaster,"  and  also  by  Prince 
Henry,  eldest  son  of  Henry  of  Hereford  and  afterward 
Henry  V,  the  hero  of  Agincourt.  The  boy  was  only  in 
his  twelfth  year,  but  well  grown  and  brave  as  a  lion.  In 
the  first  encounter  with  the  formidable  MacMurrough, 
in  the  glens  of  Carlow,  he  so  distinguished  himself  that 
Richard  II  knighted  him  on  the  field.  This  march  from 
Waterford  to  Dublin  proved,  in  the  end,  even  more  dis- 
astrous than  the  former  one.  MacMurrough  kept  up 

The  People's  History  of  Ireland  99 

his  harassing  tactics,  as  usual.  The  rain  poured  down 
in  torrents.  The  Irish  drove  all  the  cattle  away  from 
the  English  line  of  march,  and  destroyed  the  growing 
crops.  Nearly  all  the  baggage-animals  of  the  invading 
force  died  for  want  of  forage,  and  the  army  was  in  a 
state  of  famine  and  revolt,  when  it  finally  reached  the 
seacoast  near  the  present  town  of  Arklow,  where  some 
English  ships,  laden  with  provisions,  saved  it  from  actual 
starvation.  The  remnant  made  its  way  to  Dublin,  where 
other  disastrous  news  awaited  King  Richard.  Henry 
of  Hereford,  eldest  son  of  John  of  Gaunt,  whom  he  had 
unjustly  exiled,  and  whose  lands  he  had  seized,  now,  on 
the  death  of  his  father,  having  become  Duke  of  Lancas- 
ter, came  back  from  the  continent,  having  heard  of  Rich- 
ard's misfortunes  in  Ireland,  and  laid  claim  to  the  crown. 
Richard,  after  ordering  young  Prince  Henry  and  his 
uncle  to  be  imprisoned  in  the  castle  of  Trim — still  one  of 
the  finest  Norman  keeps  in  Ireland — set  sail  for  Eng- 
land. Henry,  who  had  by  this  time  raised  a  large  army, 
made  him  prisoner  and  sent  him  to  Pontefract  Castle,  in 
Yorkshire,  where,  soon  afterward,  he  was  starved  to 
death,  or  otherwise  foully  made  away .  with.  Prince 
Henry  and  his  uncle  were  immediately  released  when 
the  Duke  of  Lancaster  ascended  a  usurped  throne  as 
Henry  IV  of  England.  And  thus  was  laid  the  bloody 
foundation  of  the  dreadful  after  wars  between  the  rival 
royal  houses  of  York  and  Lancaster,  which  ended  in  the 
extermination  of  the  legitimate  Plantagenets.  An  ille- 
gitimate branch,  directly  descended  from  John  of  Gaunt, 
still  survives  in  the  ducal  house  of  Beaufort. 

Art  MacMurrough  remained  a  conqueror  to  the  end, 
and  kept  up  the  war  with  the  Normans.     In  1404,  he  de- 

ioo  The  People's  History  of  Ireland 

feated  at  Athcroe  (Ford  of  Slaughter),  near  Dublin, 
Lord  Thomas  of  Lancaster,  brother  of  the  king,  putting 
most  of  the  English  to  the  sword,  and  desperately  wound- 
ing the  prince  himself.  Only  a  few  years  ago,  Irish  la- 
borers, excavating  for  a  railroad  at  Athcroe,  came  upon 
nearly  a  thousand  bent  swords,  some  of  them  badly  de- 
composed by  rust,  buried  in  the  river  bed.  They  were 
the  swords  taken  from  the  dead  English,  in  1404,  and 
bent  across  the  knees  of  the  victorious  Irish,  according 
to  their  custom  in  those  days. 

MacMurrough's  career  of  glory  continued  until  1417, 
when,  having  captured  all  the  important  towns  of  Lein- 
ster,  except  Dublin  and  Drogheda,  he  died  at  his  capital 
of  New  Ross — then  the  second  city  in  Ireland — as  some 
say  by  poison,  in  the  sixtieth  year  of  his  age  and  forty- 
fourth  of  his  reign.  Taken  for  all  in  all,  he  was  not  alone 
the  bravest,  but  the  ablest,  of  Irish  princes  and  warriors 
since  the  days  of  King  Brian,  and  it  was  a  sad  day  for 
Ireland  when  the  word  went  through  Leinster  and  rang 
around  the  island  that  King  Art  was  dead.  Many  a  dark 
generation  passed  away  before  such  another  chief,  or 
any  one  worthy  to  be  mentioned  as  a  rival  of  his  fame, 
arose  in  that  unfortunate  land. 

The  People's  History  of  Ireland  101 


Ireland  During  the  Wars  of  the  Roses 

AFTER  the  premature  death  of  Henry  IV,  an  able 
but  unscrupulous  sovereign,  in  1413,  the  attention 
of  England  was  again  directed  to  the  conquest  of  France 
by  the  chivalrous  and  skilful  Henry  V.  His  capture  of 
Harfleur  and  marvelous  victory  of  Agincourt,  against 
overwhelming  odds,  in  1415,  stamp  him  as  one  of  the 
world's  great  military  leaders.  During  the  nine  years  of 
his  reign,  he  succeeded  in  subduing  France,  and,  finally, 
married  Catherine,  heiress  of  Charles  VI,  an  almost  im- 
becile king,  and  had  himself  declared  regent  and  next  in 
succession  to  the  throne  after  his  father-in-law.  France 
was  stupefied,  but  God,  infinitely  stronger  than  French 
arms,  decreed  Henry's  early  death.  He  died  in  the  con- 
quered country  in  1422,  leaving  an  only  son,  Henry  VI, 
an  infant  of  nine  months,  to  succeed  him,  under  the  re- 
gency of  his  uncle,  Humphrey,  Duke  of  Gloucester,  who, 
for  a  wonder,  considering  the  history  of  the  Plantage- 
nets,  remained  faithful  to  his  trust.  John,  Duke  of  Bed- 
ford, a  younger  brother  of  Henry,  and  a  very  brilliant 
soldier,  became  regent  of  France.  This  was  the  period 
of  the  inspired  peasant-girl,  Joan  of  Arc,  whose  story  of 
victory  and  death  belongs  to  the  history  of  France,  al- 
though, after  having  performed  prodigies,  she  died  at  the 
stake  to  which  the  English,  into  whose  hands  she  had 
fallen,  condemned  her.  The  Dauphin,  as  Charles  VII, 
succeeded  to  his  legitimate  throne,  and,  about  1453,  the 

IO2  The  People's  History  of  Ireland 

English  were  expelled  from  France,  except  the  old  town 
of  Calais,  which  remained  in  their  possession  until  1558. 
In  Ireland,  meanwhile,  the  chief  feuds  were  those  be- 
tween the  Geraldines  and  the  Butlers  and  the  De  Burgos 
and  the  Connaught  chiefs.  There  were  also  minor  feuds 
in  different  parts  of  the  island,  but,  as  a  rule,  the  Irish 
people  had  things  pretty  much  their  own  way,  and  might 
have  thrown  off  the  English  yoke  utterly,  if  they  had  had 
an  Edward  Bruce  or  Art  MacMurrough  to  arouse  and 
lead  them  to  victory.  Unfortunately  they  had  not,  and, 
as  the  English  fetter  was  very  light  on  Ireland  during 
the  Wars  of  the  Roses,  which  began  in  1455,  they  imag- 
ined, perhaps,  that  the  old  enemy,  having  plenty  of  right- 
ing to  do  on  their  own  account,  might  leave  them  alone 
for  evermore — a  vain  hope  if  it  were  seriously  enter- 

After  an  interval  of  six  years,  the  Wars  of  the  Roses 
— so-called  because  the  red  rose  was  the  badge  of  the 
House  of  Lancaster  and  the  white  that  of  the  House  of 
York — broke  out  more  violently  than  before,  because  Hen- 
ry VI,  who  had  been  declared  imbecile  and  unfit  to  reign, 
suddenly  recovered  his  intellect,  and  Richard  Plantag- 
enet,  Duke  of  York,  who  claimed  a  prior  right  to  the 
throne,  and  had  been  appointed  Regent,  with  the  right 
of  succession,  refused  to  give  up  his  authority.  Henry 
had  a  son  by  his  brave  wife,  Margaret  of  Anjou.  He 
might  be  called  a  weakling,  but  she  summoned  the  peo- 
ple to  defend  the  rights  of  her  son.  York  was  defeated, 
captured,  and  beheaded  at  Wakefield,  in  1461,  but  his 
son  Edward,  Earl  of  March,  routed  the  queen's  army  im- 
mediately afterward  and  ascended  the  throne  as  Edward 
IV.  Struggle  succeeded  struggle,  but  the  House  of 

The  People's  History  of  Ireland  103 

York  achieved  a  crowning  triumph  at  Tewkesbury  and 
again  at  Barnet  Heath,  where  Warwick,  the  King  Maker, 
fell.  The  direct  male  line  of  the  House  of  Lancaster 
perished  at  Tewkesbury,  where,  it  is  alleged,  the  gallant 
Prince  Edward,  son  of  Henry  VI,  was  murdered,  after 
having  been  made  prisoner,  by-Edward  IV  and  George, 
Duke  of  Clarence — the  same  afterward  drowned  in  a 
butt  of  wine  by  order  of  his  cruel  brother.  King  Ed- 
ward IV,  after  a  reign  of  twenty-two  years,  marked 
by  slaughter  of  his  foes  and  some  of  his  friends,  no- 
torious immorality,  and  swinish  debauchery,  died  of  a 
fever  brought  on  by  his  excesses,  in  1483,  and  his  vile 
younger  brother,  the  Duke  of  Gloucester,  succeeded  the 
boy  king,  Edward  V,  by  process  of  murder,  in  the  same 
year.  The  last  battle  of  the  Wars  of  the  Roses  was 
fought  at  Bos  worth,  near  Leicester,  August  22,  1485. 
Richard,  last  king  of  the  Plantagenet  family,  fell  and  was 
succeeded  by  his  rival,  Henry  Tudor,  Earl  of  Richmond, 
descended,  in  the  female  line,  from  John  of  Gaunt,  who 
ascended  the  throne  as  Henry  VII. 

Thus,  you  will  see,  Ireland  was  left  pretty  much  to  her- 
self, during  those  thirty  years  of  English  civil  war,  in 
which  twelve  murderous  pitched  battles  were  fought. 
Most  of  the  old  nobility  were  killed  in  battle  or  executed, 
or  otherwise  destroyed,  and  more  than  one  hundred 
thousand  Englishmen  of  the  middle  and  lower  classes 
were  immolated  on  the  smoking  altars  of  family  pride 
and  savage  ambition.  Every  prince  of  the  race  of  Plan- 
tagenet was  exterminated  when,  in  1599,  Henry  VII 
ordered  the  beheading  of  the  young  Earl  of  Warwick, 
son  of  the  Duke  of  Clarence.  Many  of  the  Anglo-Irish 
lords  and  their  followings  took  part  in  the  English  wars, 

IO4  The  People's  History  of  Ireland 

mainly  on  the  side  of  the  House  of  York,  and  the  Geral- 
dines,  in  particular,  got  sadly  mixed  up  in  them,  for 
which  they  suffered  amply  in  after  days.  No  reigning 
king  of  England  had  set  foot  in  Ireland  since  Richard 
II  sailed  to  his  death  from  Dublin,  and  Henry  VII 
proved  to  be  no  exception  to  the  rule.  He,  however,  in- 
terfered in  the  quarrel  between  the  Fitzgeralds  and  the 
Butlers — as  bitter  and  prolonged  as  that  between  the 
Camerons  and  Campbells  in  Scotland — and  made  the  Earl 
of  Kildare  viceroy.  The  Desmonds,  the  powerful  south- 
ern branch  of  the  Geraldines,  were  also  eternally  at 
variance  with  the  Butlers.  It  is  related  that,  on  one  occa- 
sion, the  Earl  of  Desmond  was  wounded  and  made  pris- 
oner. While  being  borne  on  a  litter  to  Butler's  strong- 
hold, one  of  the  bearers  insolently  and  brutally  demanded, 
"Where  is  the  great  Earl  of  Desmond  now  ?"  To  which 
the  heroic  captive  immediately  replied — "Where  he  ought 
to  be"  (alluding  to  the  litter  in  which  he  was  carried  by 
his  foes)  :  "still  on  the  necks  of  the  Butlers!" 

The  most  memorable  event  of  Henry  VIFs  reign,  as 
far  as  Ireland  was  concerned,  was  the  coming  over  from 
England  of  Sir  Edward  Poynings,  as  Lord  Deputy  dur- 
ing the  temporary  retirement  of  Kildare.  The  English 
colonists  of  the  Pale,  almost  from  their  first  settlement 
of  that  district,  possessed  an  independent  parliament, 
modeled  on  that  of  England.  It  was,  in  general,  op- 
pressive toward  the  Celtic-Irish,  but  made  good  laws 
enough  for  the  Palesmen.  Poynings,  soon  after  his  ar- 
rival, called  this  parliament  to  assemble  at  Drogheda  and 
there  (1495)  the  Statute  of  Kilkenny  was  reaffirmed, 
except  as  regarded  the  prohibition  of  Gaelic,  which  had 
come  into  general  use,  even  in  the  Pale  itself.  The 

The  People's  History  of  Ireland  105 

main  enactment — the  first  uttered  in  the  English  tongue 
in  Ireland — was  that  known  as  10  Henry  VII,  otherwise 
Poynings'  Law,  which  provided  that  no  legislation  should 
be,  thereafter,  proceeded  with  in  Ireland  unless  the  bills 
were  first  submitted  for  approval  or  rejection  to  the 
monarch  and  privy  council  of  England.  In  case  of  ap- 
proval they  were  to  be  attested  by  the  great  seal  of  the 
English  realm.  It  was,  to  be  sure,  a  most  unjust  and 
insolent  measure,  and  it  seems  almost  incredible  that  even 
the  Pales  people — mere  hybrids,  neither  English  nor  Irish 
— should  have  tamely  submitted  to  its  infamous  pro- 
visions. It  remained  in  force  287  years,  or  until  1782, 
when  it  was  repealed  under  circumstances  that  will  ap- 
pear hereafter. 

The  close  of  this  reign  witnessed  a  bloody  struggle 
between  the  Kildares  and  Clanricardes,  in  which  many 
Celtic  tribes  also  bore  a  part,  and  in  which  thousands  of 
men  lost  their  lives  to  no  good  purpose.  In  the  two 
principal  battles,  those  of  Knockdoe  and  Monabraher 
(1507-10),  artillery  and  musketry  were  first  made  use  of 
on  Irish  soil. 

As  most  of  the  Irish  Palesmen,  including  the  House 
of  Kildare,  were  partisans  of  the  House  of  York  dur- 
ing the  Wars  of  the  Roses,  the  two  pretenders — prepared 
by  Margaret,  Duchess  of  Burgundy,  sister  of  Edward 
IV,  to  impersonate,  respectively,  Edward,  Earl  of  War- 
wick, only  son  and  heir  of  the  late  Duke  of  Clarence, 
and  Richard,  Duke  of  York,  the  second  son  of  Edward 
IV,  who  was  murdered  in  the  Tower,  by  order,  it  is 
said,  of  his  base  uncle,  Richard  III,  together  with  his 
brother,  the  boy-king,  Edward  V — found  adherents  when 
they  landed  on  Irish  soil.  Indeed,  Lambert  Simnel,  the 

io6  The  People's  History  of  Ireland 

first  of  these  pretenders,  a  handsome  young  English- 
man, who  resembled  the  princes  of  the  House  of  York, 
was  crowned  king,  as  "Edward  VI,"  in  Christ  Church 
Cathedral,  Dublin.  Many  Pales  Irish  followed  him  to 
England,  where  Henry  VII  defeated  and  made  him  pris- 
oner. The  real  Warwick  was  taken  from  the  Tower  and 
paraded  through  the  streets — a  sad  spectacle  of  physical 
comeliness  marred,  and  intellect  clouded,  by  long  and 
harsh  confinement.  Having  been  sufficiently  exhibited 
to  satisfy  the  public  of  Simnel's  imposture,  the  poor  boy 
was  returned  to  his  cell.  Simnel,  himself,  was  made  a 
"turnspit"  in  the  royal  kitchen,  afterward  raised  to  the 
post  of  falconer,  and  ended  his  days  in  that  humble  posi- 
tion. The  second  pretender,  Perkin  Warbeck,  %  Belgian 
by  birth,  had  less  support  from  Ireland  than  h|s  prede- 
cessor, but  involved  some  of  the  nobles  of  the  Pale  with 
King  Henry.  But  his  adherents,  remembering  the  impo- 
sition of 'the  bogus  Edward  VI,  soon  fell  away,  and 
Perkin  went  to  Scotland,  where  James  IV  received  him, 
as  if  he  were  a  genuine  prince,  and  gave  him  his  cousin, 
the  lovely  Lady  Catherine  Gordon,  in  marriage.  Peace 
being  concluded  between  James  and  Henry,  Warbeck 
and  his  beautiful  bride  went  to  Cornwall.  There  the 
pretender,  who  was  really  a  man  of  noble  presence  and 
great  ability,  rallied  3,000  men  to  his  standard.  Suc- 
cessful at  first,  he  proved  himself  a  false  Plantagenet 
by  basely  deserting  his  confiding  followers  on  the  eve 
of  decisive  battle.  He  shut  himself  up  in  the  sanctuary 
of  Beaulieu,  in  the  New  Forest,  but  soon  surrendered 
himself,  and  was  shown  by  the  king  to  the  populace  of 
London.  He  was  well  treated  for  a  time,  but  his  posi- 
tion was  mortifying.  He  ran  off  to  another  sanctuary, 

The  People's  History  of  Ireland  107 

was  again  forced  to  give  himself  up,  was  placed  in  the 
public  stocks,  confessed  he  was  an  impostor,  and  was 
finally  sent  to  the  Tower,  to  keep  company  with  the 
unhappy  Warwick.  This  circumstance  enabled  the  crafty 
Henry  to  get  up 'a  so-called  plot,  of  which  it  was  easy 
to  convict  two  helpless  prisoners.  Warwick — last  male 
of  the  Plantagenets — lost  his  head  on  Tower  Hill,  and 
Warbeck  died  by  the  rope  at  Tyburn.  His  charming 
widow  became  lady-in-waiting  to  the  Queen. 

Many  abbeys  and  monasteries  were  built  in  Ireland 
during  this  comparatively  tranquil  period,  and  the  passion 
for  learning  revived  to  a  great  extent  among  the  native 
Irish  nobility.  Pilgrimages,  as  of  old,  were  made  to 
distant  lands  for  the  purpose  of  worshiping  at  famous 
shrines.  Irish  teachers  and  scholars  began  again  to  be 
numerous  in  Spain,  Germany,  and  Italy.  Henry  VII, 
engaged  in  saving  the  wreck  of  England's  almost  ex- 
tinguished nobility,  and  in  hoarding  money,  for  which 
he  had  a  passion,  took  little  account  of  Ireland  and  the 
Irish.  But,  already,  low  on  the  horizon,  a  blood-red 
cloud  was  forming,  and  it  gradually  thickened  and  ex- 
tended until,  at  last,  it  broke  in  a  crimson  torrent  on 
the  fated  Irish  nation. 




The  "Reformation" — New  Cause  of  Discord  in  Ireland 

TH  HE  bitterness  of  race  hatred  had  almost  died  out 
A  when  the  Reformation,  as  the  opponents  of  the 
Church  of  Rome  called  the  great  schism  of  the  sixteenth 
century,  began  to  shake  Europe  like  an  earthquake. 
Luther,  and  other  dissenters  from  Catholic  faith,  carried 
most  of  the  north  of  Europe  with  them.  The  Latin  coun- 
tries, South  Germany,  all  of  Ireland,  and  most  of  Eng- 
land, clung  to  the  old  faith,  and  Henry  VIII,  who  suc- 
ceeded his  father  at  an  early  age,  and  was  quite  learned 
in  theology,  wrote  a  pamphlet  defending  the  Catholic 
dogmas  against  Luther  and  the  others.  This  work  pro- 
cured for  him  from  the  Pope  the  title  of  the  "Defender 
of  the  Faith,"  which  still,  rather  inappropriately,  belongs 
to  the  sovereign  of  England.  But  Henry  was  a  good 
Catholic  only  so  long  as  religion  did  not  interfere  with 
his  passions  and  ambitions.  He  had  been  married  in 
early  life  to  Catherine  of  Aragon,  who  had  been  the 
nominal  wife  of  his  elder  brother,  another  Prince  of 
Wales,  who  died  uncrowned.  After  many  years,  Henry, 
who  was  a  slave  to  his  passions,  tired  of  Catherine,  and 
pretended  to  believe  that  it  was  sinful  to  live  with  his 
brother's  widow,  even  though  the  latter  relationship  was 
but  nominal.  In  truth,  he  had  fallen  in  love  with  Anne 
Boleyn,  one  of  Queen  Catherine's  maids-of-honor.  The 
Pope  was  appealed  to  for  a  divorce  and  refused  to  grant 
it,  after  having  carefully  examined  into  the  case.  Then 

Ireland— 6  voLJ.(in) 

H2  The  People's  History  of  Ireland 

Henry  severed  England's  spiritual  connection  with  Rome, 
and  declared  himself  head  of  the  English  "Reformed" 
Church.  In  this  he  was  sustained  by  Wolsey,  Cromwell, 
and  other  high  churchmen,  all  of  whom  were  either  am- 
bitious or  afraid  of  their  heads,  for  Henry  never  hesi- 
tated, like  his  grand-uncle,  Richard  III,  at  the  use  of 
the  axe,  when  any  subject,  clerical  or  lay,  opposed  his 
will.  But  the  tyrant,  while  refusing  allegiance  to  the 
Pope,  still  maintained  the  truth  of  Catholic  dogma,  and 
he  murdered  with  studied  impartiality  those  who  gave 
their  adhesion  to  the  Holy  See  and  those  who  denied  its 
doctrines;  no  Englishman  of  note  felt  his  head  safe  in 
those  red  days.  As  for  the  common  people,  nobody  of 
"rank"  ever  gave  them  a  thought.  Henry  now  seized 
upon  the  Church  property,  and,  therewith,  bribed  the 
great  lords  to  take  his  side  of  the  controversy.  The 
boors  followed  the  lords,  and  so  most  of  England  fol- 
lowed Henry's  schism  and  prepared  to  go  farther. 

Henry  married  Anne  Boleyn  when  he  had  "divorced" 
Queen  Catherine.  After  the  Princess  Elizabeth  was 
born,  he  tired  of  his  new  wife,  had  her  tried  for  faithless- 
ness and  high  treason  and  beheaded.  Scarcely  was  she 
dead  when  the  inhuman  brute  married  Lady  Jane  Sey- 
mour, of  the  great  Somerset  family.  She  gave  birth  to 
Prince  Edward  and  died.  Then  he  married  Anne  of 
Cleves,  but,  not  liking  her  person,  "divorced"  her  and 
sent  her  back  to  Germany.  For  "imposing"  her  on  him, 
he  disgraced,  and  finally  beheaded,  the  Lord  Chancellor, 
Thomas  Cromwell,  who  had  been  his  great  friend.  The 
monster  next  espoused  Lady  Catherine  Howard,  of  the 
House  of  Surrey,  but  he  had  her  beheaded,  on  charges 
almost  similar  to  those  urged  against  Anne  Boleyn,  with- 

The  People's  History  of  Ireland  113 

in  the  year.  At  last  he  married  a  widow  of  two  experi- 
ences, Lady  Catharine  Parr,  who,  being  a  woman  of  tact 
and  cleverness,  managed  to  save  her  head,  although  fre- 
quently in  danger,  until  the  ferocious  king,  who  must 
have  been  somewhat  insane,  finally  fell  a  victim  to  his 
own  unbridled  vices.  "The  plain  truth,"  says  Charles 
Dickens,  in  his  "Child's  History,"  "is  that  Henry  VIII 
was  a  most  intolerable  ruffian,  a  disgrace  to  human 
nature,  and  a  blot  of  blood  and  grease  upon  the  history 
of  England." 

This  was  the  crowned  "fiend  in  human  shape"  who 
sought  to  effect  his  "Reformation  in  Ireland,"  where  both 
the  Old  Irish  and  the  Old  English  had  united  against  his 
tyranny.  The  weight  of  his  wrath  fell  first  upon  the  Lein- 
ster  Geraldines,  whom  he  dreaded.  He  contrived  to  pick 
a  quarrel  with  Gerald,  ninth  Earl  of  Kildare,  who  had 
been  for  many  years  his  favorite  viceroy  in  Ireland,  and 
summoned  him  to  London  in  hot  haste,  on  flimsy,  notori- 
ously "trumped-up"  charges  of  treason.  He  flung  him 
into  a  dungeon  in  the  Tower  of  London.  Lord  Thomas 
Fitzgerald,  son  of  the  Earl,  called  "Silken  Thomas," 
because  of  the  beauty  of  his  person  and  the  splendor  of 
his  apparel,  was  appointed  deputy  by  his  father,  who 
thought  his  absence  in  England  might  be  brief.  Lord 
Thomas  was  young,  brave,  and  rash,  and,  in  short,  the 
very  man  to  fall  an  easy  victim  to  the  wiles  of  his 
House's  enemies.  Tradition  says  that  the  false  news  of 
Earl  Gerald's  execution,  by  order  of  King  Henry,  was 
spread  in  Dublin  by  one  of  the  Butlers.  The  privy  coun- 
cil, over  which  he  usually  presided,  was  already  in  session 
at  St.  Mary's  Abbey,  when  "Silken  Thomas"  heard  the 
story.  He.  at  once,  with  a  large  escort,  proceeded  to  the 

H4  The  People's  History  of  Ireland 

abbey,  renounced  his  allegiance  to  the  English  monarch, 
and,  seizing  the  sword  of  state  from  the  sword-bearer, 
threw  it,  with  violent  gesture,  on  the  council  table,  "the 
English  Thanes  among."  Protests  availed  nothing.  He 
rushed  to  arms,  and  for  nearly  two  years  held  at  bay 
Henry's  power.  Had  he  but  laid  his  plans  with  care  and 
judgment,  he  would,  no  doubt,  have  ended  the  rule  of 
England  over  Ireland,  which,  although  not  his  primary, 
became  his  ultimate,  object.  In  the  end,  his  stronghold 
of  Maynooth  Castle  was  betrayed  into  the  hands  of  the 
English  general,  Sir  William  Skeffington,  by  Lord 
Thomas's  foster-brother,  Parez,  for  'a  sum  in  gold. 
General  Skeffington  paid  the  money  on  the  surrender  of 
the  castle,  and  immediately  hanged  the  traitor.  For  this 
act  of  chivalric  justice,  the  name  of  that  stern  English- 
man is  still  held  in  respect  by  all  readers  of  Irish  history. 
The  loss  of  Maynooth  depleted  the  strength  of  "Silken 
Thomas."  He  struggled  on  for  some  time  longer,  but,  at 
last,  accepted  the  terms  of  Lord  Deputy  Gray,  who  offered 
him  his  life  and  guaranteed  the  safety  of  his  five  uncles 
— two,  at  least,  of  whom  had  had  no  hand  in  the  outbreak. 
They  were  invited  to  a  banquet  by  the  Lord  Deputy,  and 
there,  while  drinking  with  their  false  hosts,  were  treach- 
erously seized,  placed  in  irons,  and  sent  to  England  in 
a  ship  called  the  Cow.  One  of  the  uncles,  hearing  the 
name  of  the  vessel,  said :  "We  are  lost !  I  have  dreamed 
that  six  of  us,  Geraldines,  would  be  carried  to  England 
in  the  belly  of  a  cow  and  there  lose  our  heads!"  The 
augury  was  fulfilled.  Henry  VIII,  with  his  usual  disre- 
gard of  terms,  had  them  beheaded  immediately  after  their 
arrival  in  London,  at  Tyburn.  The  old  Earl  of  Kildare 
had  not  been  executed  after  all,  but  died  of  a  broken  heart 

The  People's  History  of  Ireland  115 

in  the  Tower  on  learning  of  the  revolt  and  misfortunes  of 
his  son.  Only  one  heir-male  of  the  noble  House  of  Kil- 
dare  now  survived,  and  for  him,  although  only  twelve 
years  old,  Henry  sought,  through  his  agents,  with  the 
relentless  ferocity  of  a  Herod.  The  boy  was  related  to 
the  great  Celtic  houses,  for  the  Geraldines  of  that  period 
preferred  Irish  wives,  and  his  mother  was  a  princess 
of  the  House  of  O'Neill  of  Ulster.  By  her,  and  by  other 
noble  Irish  ladies,  he  was  concealed  and  protected  until 
he  was  enabled  to  escape  to  France.  Thence  he  pro- 
ceeded to  Rome,  where  he  was  educated  as  befitted  his 
rank  and  lineage.  This  young  Gerald  was  restored  to 
his  titles  and  estates  by  Queen  Mary  I,  but  he  accepted 
Protestantism  when  Elizabeth  came  to  the  throne,  because, 
otherwise,  he  could  not  have  saved  land  and  title — a  most 
unworthy  motive,  but  one  very  common  in  that  violent 
and  sanguinary  era.  In  his  descendants  the  elder  Ger- 
aldine  branch  still  lives  in  Ireland — the  present  head  of 
the  family  being  Maurice  Fitzgerald,  "the  boy-Duke"  of 

"Bluff  King  Hal,"  as  the  English  called  their  royal 
Bluebeard,  never  did  anything  by  halves,  if  he  could  help 
it.  He  did  not  think  the  title  of  "Lord  of  Ireland"  suffi- 
cient for  his  dignity,  and  set  about  intriguing  to  be  elected 
king.  Accordingly,  he  caused  to  be  summoned  a  parlia- 
ment, or  rather  what  we  of  to-day  would  call  a  conven- 
tion, composed  of  Anglo-Irish  barons  and  Celto-Irish 
chiefs,  to  meet  in  Dublin,  A.D.  1541.  This  parliament  or 
convention,  at  which  the  great  Ulster  princes,  O'Neill  and 
O'Donnell,  did  not  attend,  voted  Henry  the  crown  of  Ire- 
land— something  the  Irish  chiefs,  at  least,  had  no  power 
to  do,  as  they  held  their  titles  by  election  of  their  clans 

n6  The  People's  History  of  Ireland 

and  not  by  right  of  heredity.  The  outcome  was,  how- 
ever, that  Henry  became  King  of  Ireland — the  first  En- 
glish monarch  to  achieve  that  distinction.  In  order  to 
emphasize  his  power,  he  at  once  decreed  that  the  old  titles 
of  the  Irish  princes  should  give  way  to  English  ones. 
Thus  "The  O'Brien"  became  "Earl  of  Thomond" ;  "The 
MacWilliam,"  "Earl  of  Clanricarde" ;  "The  MacMur- 
rough"  became  "Baron  of  Ballynun,"and  changed  his  fam- 
ily name  to  Kavanagh.  Shameful  to  relate,  O'Neill  and 
O'Donnell,  both  old  men,  broken  in  health,  "came  in"  and 
joined  the  titled  serfs.  The  former  became  "Earl  of 
Tyrone"  and  the  latter  "Earl  of  Tyrconnel." 

When  the  news  reached  the  Irish  clansmen,  there  was 
a  general  revolt  and  new  chiefs  of  the  same  families,  with 
the  old  Irish  designations  unchanged,  were  elected.  The 
English  interest  supported  "the  King's  O'Donnell"  and 
the  others  of  his  type,  while  the  bulk  of  the  Irish  people 
stood  for  the  newly  chosen  leaders.  Thus  was  still  an- 
other firebrand  cast  by  English  policy  among  the  Irish 
people,  and  there  was  civil  war,  thenceforth,  for  genera- 
tions in  the  clans  themselves. 

Nor  was  Henry  satisfied  with  mere  civil  supremacy  in 
Ireland.  He  also  set  himself  up  as  head  of  the  Irish 
Church.  Many  Anglo-Irish  Catholic  bishops  basely  ac- 
quiesced in  his  policy,  but  the  Celtic  bishops,  almost  to 
a  man,  spurned  his  propositions.  The  masses  of  the  Irish 
nation,  whether  of  Celtic,  Norman,  or  Saxon  origin,  re- 
mained steadfastly  Catholic,  although,  in  the  past,  they 
had  had  little  cause  to  be  pleased  with  the  political  action 
of  the  Vatican,  which  had  generally  sided  with  the  Cath- 
olic monarchs  of  England  against  Ireland's  aspirations 
after  independence.  Now,  however,  the  favored  country 

The  People's  History   of  Ireland  117 

had  become  Rome's  most  deadly  enemy  in  Europe,  while 
Ireland,  inhabited  by  a  highly  spirited  and  stubborn  peo- 
ple, who  venerated  the  creed  taught  their  fathers  by  St. 
Patrick,  became  the  foremost  European  champion  of  the 
old  faith. 

We  can  not  dwell  at  greater  length  on  this  lurid  dawn 
of  the  Reformation  in  Ireland,  because,  fierce  as  was  the 
persecution  under  Henry,  it  was  trivial  compared  with 
what  followed  his  reign,  and  made  the  distracted  island  a 
veritable  den  of  outrage  and  slaughter.  , 


The  Reformation  Period  Continued — Edward  VI,  Mary  I,  Elizabeth, 
and   "John   the    Proud" 

WHEN  Edward  VI,  another  boy-king,  came  to  the 
throne,  in  1547,  Ireland  was  pretty  well  distracted, 
owing  to  the  seeds  of  discord  sown  by  his  ferocious  father. 
The  young  monarch  was  under  the  absolute  control  of  his 
maternal  kinsmen,  the  Seymours,  and  all  that  was  done  to 
forward  the  Reformation  in  Ireland  during  his  brief  reign 
may  be  justly  attributed  to  them.  On  his  death,  in  1553, 
Mary,  daughter  of  Henry  VIII  and  Catherine  of  Aragon, 
and  wife  of  Philip  II  of  Spain,  succeeded.  She  was  a 
bigoted  Catholic  and  soon  made  things  decidedly  warm 
for  the  Protestants  in  England.  Many  of  these  fled  for 
safety  to  Ireland,  where  the  Catholic  people — incapable 
of  cruelty  until  demoralized  by  the  ruthless  tyranny  of 
religious  persecution — received  and  sheltered  them — a 
noble  page  of  Anglo-Irish  history. 

The  Reformation,  of  course,  came  to  a  standstill  in 

n8  The  People's  History  of  Ireland 

Ireland,  during  this  queen's  reign,  but  the  plunder  and 
persecution  of  the  Irish  people  did  not,  therefore,  abate. 
There  were  raids  and  massacres  and  confiscations,  as 
usual.  Of  course  there  were  bloody  reprisals  on  the  part 
of  %e  Irish,  also — as  was  but  natural.  Some  of  the  old 
Irish  dfctricts — particularly  Leix  and  Offaly — were,  un- 
der the  sway  of  Mary,  called  the  King's  and  Queen's 
Counties — the  chief  town  of  the  one  being  named  Philips- 
town,  after  the  queen's  Spanish  husband,  and  the  capital 
of  the  other  Maryborough,  after  herself.  The  Irish  Re- 
formers "laid  low,"  as  was  prudent  in  them,  during 
Mary's  period  of  power,  because  she  had  the  unpleasant 
Tudor  habit  of  putting  to  death,  by  divers  violent  modes 
of  punishment,  those  who  presumed  to  differ  from  her 
rather  strong  opinions.  The  English,  who  sincerely  re- 
joiced when,  after  reigning  about  five  years,  she  passed 
to  her  account,  nicknamed  her  "Bloody  Mary,"  although 
she  was  not  a  whit  "bloodier"  than  her  awful  father,  and 
had  a  very  formidable  rival  for  sanguinary  "honors"  in 
her  younger  half-sister,  Elizabeth.  Mary  Tudor  was  the 
last  avowed  Catholic  monarch  who  reigned  in  England, 
except  the  ill-fated  James  II.  In  this  reign,  the  English 
law  of  primogeniture  was  first  generally  introduced  into 
the  Celtic  districts  annexed  to  the  Pale,  which  had  been 
flivided  into  "shire-ground,"  and  this  was  the  cause  of 
much  internal  disorder  among  the  Irish  tribes  that  clung 
to  the  old  elective  system  of  chieftaincy. 

Elizabeth,  called  by  her  admiring  English  subjects 
"Good  Queen  Bess,"  on  very  insufficient  grounds,  as- 
cended the  throne  in  1558.  She  had,  apparently,  "con- 
formed" to  Catholicity  during  the  lively  reign  of  her  half- 
sister,  fearing,  no  doubt,  for  her  head  in  case  of  refusal. 

The  People's  History  of  Ireland  119 

Henry  VIII's  daughter,  by  Anne  Boleyn,  she  inherited 
great  energy  of  character,  a  masculine  intellect,  super- 
abundant vanity,  a  passion  for  empire,  and  a  genius  for 
intrigue.  Her  morals  were  none  of  the  best,  according 
to  many  historians.  She  was,  for  that  age,  highly  edu- 
cated, could  speak  divers  tongues,  and  possessed  many 
of  the  polite  accomplishments.  Indeed,  she  was  somewhat 
of  a  female  pedant.  In  person,  while  yet  young,  she  was 
not  ill-favored,  being  well  formed  and  of  good  stature. 
Her  complexion  was  fair,  her  hair  auburn,  and  her  eyes 
small,  but  dark  and  sparkling.  Her  temper  was  irritable ; 
she  swore  when  angry,  and,  at  times,  her  disposition  was 
as  ferocious  as  that  of  "Old  Hal"  himself.  Like  his,  her 
loves  were  passing  passions,  and  her  friendship  dangerous 
to  those  on  whom  she  lavished  it  most  freely.  Flattery 
was  the  surest  way  by  which  to  reach  her  consideration, 
but,  in  affairs  of  state,  not  even  that  could  cloud  her  pow- 
erful understanding  or  balk  her  resolute  will.  She  re- 
solved to  finish  what  her  father  and  brother  had  begun, 
and  finish  it  to  the  purpose — namely,  the  Reformation — 
in  both  England  and  Ireland.  In  the  former  country, 
her  will  soon  became  law,  and  Rome  ceased  to  be  con- 
sidered, for  generations,  as  a  factor  in  English  affairs. 
In  Ireland,  it  was  different.  The  people  there  refused, 
as  a  great  majority,  to  conform  to  the  new  order  of 
things.  They  obeyed  the  Pope,  as  their  spiritual  chief, 
and  went  to  mass  and  received  the  sacraments  as  usual. 
In  Ulster,  particularly,  the  people,  headed  by  John  O'Neill, 
Prince  of  Tyrone,  surnamed  "The  Proud,"  resisted  all 
English  encroachments,  civil  and  religious.  A  bloody 
war  resulted.  The  English  generals  and  some  of  the 
Anglo-Irish  lords  were  commissioned  by  Elizabeth  to 

I2O  The  People's   History  of  Ireland 

force  the  new  religion  down  the  throats  of  the  Irish  peo- 
ple at  the  point  of  the  sword.     The  Liturgy,  she  pro- 
claimed, must  be  read  in  English,  the  mass  abandoned, 
and  she  herself  be  recognized  as  Pope  in  Ireland,  as  well 
as  in  England.     Accordingly,  the  English  armies  burned 
the  Catholic  churches  and  chapels,  assassinated  the  clergy, 
and  butchered,  the  people  wherever  resistance  was  offered. 
But  John  O'Neill  was  a  great  soldier  and  managed,  for 
many  years,  to  defend  hds  country  with  great  success,  de- 
feating the  best  of  the  English  captains  in  several  fierce 
conflicts.     Elizabeth,  struck  with  his  bravery  and  ability, 
invited  him  to  visit  her  at  her  palace  of  Greenwich.    The 
invitation  was  sent  through  Gerald  of  Kildare,  O'Neill's 
cousin.    The  Irish  prince  accepted  and  proceeded  to  court 
with  a  following  of  three  hundred  galloglasses,  or  heavy 
infantry,  clad  in  saffron-colored  jackets,  close-fitting  pan- 
taloons, heavy  shoes,  short  cloaks,  and  with  their  hair 
hanging  down  their  backs,  defiant  of  Poynings'  Law,  and 
all  other  English  enactments.     They  were  gigantic  war- 
riors— all  more  than  sixv  feet  tall — and  with  huge  mus- 
taches, the  drooping  ends  of  which  touched  their  collar- 
bones.    They  also  carried  truculent-looking  daggers  and 
immense  battle-axes,  such  as  might  have  won  the  admira- 
tion of  Richard  Cceur  de  Lion  himself.     The  English 
courtiers — pigmies    compared    with    the    galloglasses — 
might  have  been  inclined  to  make  fun  of  their  costumes, 
but  those  deadly  appearing  axes  inspired  awe,  and  no  un- 
pleasant incident  occurred  during  the  visit.     "Shane  the 
Proud*'  made  a  deep  impression  on  Elizabeth,  for  he  was 
physically  magnificent  and  as  fierce  as  her  dreaded  father. 
"By  what  right  do  you  oppose  me  in  Ulster?"  she  asked. 
"By  very  good  right,  madam,"  he  answered.    "You  may 

The  People's  History  of  Ireland  121 

be  queen  here,  but  I  am  king  in  Ulster,  and  so  have  been 
the  O'Neills  for  thousands  of  years!"  Then  she  offered 
to  make  him  Earl  of  Tyrone  by  letters  patent.  "Earl 
me  no  earls,  madam,"  he  replied.  "The  O'Neill  is  my 
title !  By  it  I  stand  or  fall !"  There  was  nothing  more 
to  be  said,  so  the  queen  made  him  rich  presents,  after  ask- 
ing him  to  be  her  "good  friend,"  which,  being  a  gallant, 
he  promised,  and  then  he  went  back  to  Ulster. 

But  Shane,  although  a  good  general  and  a  great 
fighter,  was  a  bad  statesman,  and  by  no  means  a  con- 
scientious character.  He  oppressed  the  neighboring  Irish 
chiefs,  being,  indeed,  half  mad  with  pride,  and  made  a 
most  unjust  and  unnecessary  attack  on  the  Clan  O'Don- 
nell,  next  to  the  O'Neills  the  most  powerful  of  Ulster 
tribes.  He  not  alone  ruined  the  O'Donnell,  but  also 
dishonored  him,  by  carrying  his  wife  away  and  making 
her  his  mistress,  in  mad  disregard  of  Irish  public  opin- 
ion. He  also  quarreled  with  the  old  MacDonald  colony 
of  Antrim — said  by  some  writers  to  be  Irish,  not  Scotch, 
in  their  origin — and  used  them  with  extreme  harshness. 
In  the  end,  his  misconduct  produced  a  revolt  even  among 
his  own  followers.  His  enemies,  including  the  injured 
O'Donnells,  speedily  multiplied,  and  he  who  had  been 
fifty  times  victorious  over  the  English,  was,  at  last,  sig- 
nally defeated  by  his  own  justly  indignant  fellow-coun- 
trymen. In  this  extremity,  he  fled  with  his  mistress  and 
a  few  followers  for  refuge  to  the  MacDonalds,  who,  at 
first,  received  the  fugitives  hospitably,  but  soon,  insti- 
gated, it  is  said,  by  one  Captain  Piers,  an  Englishman, 
fell  upon  O'Neill  at  a  banquet  and  stabbed  him  to  death. 
Had  he  loved  his  own  people  as  much  as  he  hated  the 
English,  he  might  have  lived  and  died  a  conqueror.  The 

122  The  People's  History  of  Ireland 

MacDonalds  did  not  respect  the  body  of  this  dead  lion. 
They  severed  the  head  from  the  trunk,  pickled  it,  and 
sent  the  ghastly  present  to  the  English  Lord  Deputy  in 
Dublin,  who  caused  it  to  be  spiked  on  the  tower  of  Dub- 
lin Castle.  O'Neill's  death,  in  the  very  prime  of  his  mili- 
tary genius,  relieved  Elizabeth  of  her  most  dangerous 
Irish  enemy.  But  another  scion  of  that  warrior  race 
was  under  the  queen's  "protection"  in  London,  and  was 
destined  to  raise  the  Bloody  Hand,  the  cognizance  of  his 
house,  to  a  prouder  eminence  than  it  had  attained  in 
Irish  annals  since  the  far-off  days  of  Nial  of  the  Hostages. 
Treacherous  massacres  of  Irish  chieftains  dangerous 
to  England's  supremacy  in  their  country  would  appear 
to  have  been  a  special  feature  of  Elizabeth's  reign. 
Under  the  Lord  Deputy  Sydney's  regime,  A.D.  1577, 
Sir  Francis  Cosby,  the  English  general  commanding  in 
the  ancient  territories  of  Leix  and  Offaly,  unable  to  ob- 
tain the  submission  of  the  native  chiefs  by  force  of  arms, 
invited  several  hundred  of  them  to  a  banquet  at  the  rath 
of  Mullaghmast,  in  the  present  county  of  Kildare.  The 
principal  families  represented  were  the  O'Mores,  O'No- 
lan's,  O'Kelly's,  and  Lalors.  The  rath,  or  fort,  was 
fitted  up  for  the  occasion,  and,  through  the  entrance, 
the  unsuspecting  Irish  chieftains  and  their  friends  rode 
with  happy  hearts  and  smiling  faces.  But  one  of 
the  Lalors  who  was  rather  belated,  had  his  suspicions 
aroused  by  the  dead  silence  which  seemed  to  prevail  in 
the  rath,  and  by  the  peculiar  circumstance  that  none  of 
those  who  had  entered  came  out  to  welcome  the  later 
arrivals.  He  bade  the  few  friends  who  had  accompanied 
him  to  remain  outside,  while  he  entered  the  fort  to  inves- 
tigate. He  took  the  precaution  to  draw  his  sword  before 

The  People's  History  of  Ireland  123 

he  went  in.  Proceeding  with  caution,  he  was  horrified 
at  stumbling  over  the  dead  bodies  of  some  of  his  neigh- 
bors just  beyond  the  entrance.  He  retreated  at  once,  but 
was  set  upon  by  assassins  placed  there  to  murder  him. 
A  powerful  man,  he  wielded  his  blade  with  such  good 
effect  that  he  cut  his  way  out,  mounted  his  horse,  and 
set  off  with  his  horrified  associates  at  full  gallop  to  his 
home  at  Dysart.  More  than  four  hundred  confiding 
Irish  gentlemen  had  entered  the  rath  that  day,  and  of  all 
of  them,  only  the  sagacious  Lalor  escaped.  The  tribe  of 
O'More  alone  lost  nearly  two  hundred  of  its  foremost 
members,  but  was  not  entirely  exterminated.  Rory  Oge 
O'More,  son  of  the  slaughtered  head  of  the  tribe,  made 
relentless  war  on  the  English  Pale,  and  never  desisted 
until  he  had  more  than  avenged  his  kindred  slain  in  the 
foul  massacre  of  Mullaghmast. 

The  Geraldine  War— Hugh  O'Neill  and  "Red  Hugh"  O'Donnell 

T  TLSTER  was  subdued,  for  a  time,  but,  in  Munster, 
U  the  younger  branch  of  the  Geraldines,  known  as 
Earls  of  Desmond,  rose  against  the  edicts  of  Elizabeth 
and  precipitated  that  long,  sanguinary,  and  dreary  con- 
flict known  as  the  Geraldine  War.  Most  of  the  Irish 
and  Anglo-Irish  chiefs  of  the  southern  province  bore  a 
part  in  it,  and  it  only  terminated  after  a  murderous  strug- 
gle, stretching  over  nearly  seven  years.  The  Desmonds 
and  their  allies  gained  many  successes,  but  lack  of  co- 
hesion, as  always,  produced  the  inevitable  result — final 
defeat.  South  Munster  became  a  desert.  Elizabeth's 

124  The  People's   History  of  Ireland 

armies  systematically  destroyed  the  growing  crops,  and, 
at  last,  famine  accomplished  for  England  what  the  sword 
could  not  have  done.  The  Munster  Geraldines  were 
mainly  led  by  Sir  James  Fitzmaurice,  a  kinsman  of  the 
earl,  who  was  a  brave  man  and  an  accomplished  soldier. 
The  earl  himself,  and  his  brother,  Sir  John  Fitzgerald, 
had  been  summoned  to  L,ondon  by  the  queen,  and  were 
made  prisoners  and  placed  in  the  Tower,  after  the  usual 
treacherous  fashion.  After  a  period  of  detention,  they 
were  transferred,  as  state  prisoners,  to  Dublin  Castle, 
but  managed  to  effect  their  escape  (doubtless  by  the  con- 
nivance of  friendly  officials)  on  horseback  and  reached 
their  own  country  in  due  time.  The  earl,  foolishly,  held 
aloof  from  Fitzmaurice  until  a  dangerous  crisis  was 
reached,  when  he  threw  himself  into  the  struggle  and, 
in  defence  of  his  country  and  religion,  lost  all  he  pos- 
sessed. The  Pope  and  King  of  Spain,  in  the  Catholic 
interest,  sent  men  and  money,  but  the  Papal  contingent, 
led  by  an  English  military  adventurer,  named  Stukley, 
was  diverted  from  its  purpose,  and  never  reached  Ireland. 
The  Spanish  force — less  than  a  thousand  men — was 
brought  to  Ireland  by  Fitzmaurice  himself.  He  had 
made  a  pilgrimage  to  Spain  for  that  purpose.  Smer- 
wick  Castle,  on  the  Kerry  coast,  was  their  point  of  de- 
barkation. With  unaccountable  timidity,  Earl  Desmond 
made  no  sign  of  an  alliance,  and  Fitzmaurice  was  in 
search  of  other  succor,  when  he  fell,  in  a  petty  encounter 
with  the  De  Burgos  of  Castle  Connell.  The  Spaniards, 
who  occupied  Smerwick,  were  besieged  by  a  large  Anglo- 
Irish  force,  under  the  Earl  of  Ormond  and  other  veteran 
chiefs.  They  made  a  gallant  and  desperate  defence,  but 
they  were  invested  by  land  and  sea,  and  were  perfectly 

The  People's   History  of  Ireland  125 

Helpless  against  the  shower  of  shot  and  shell  rained  upon 
them  night  and  day  by  the  English  batteries.  Seeing 
that  further  resistance  was  useless,  the  Spanish  com- 
mander finally  surrendered  at  discretion,  but,  disgraceful 
to  relate,  Lord  Deputy  De  Grey  refused  quarter  and  the 
hapless  Spaniards  were  butchered  to  the  last  man.  It 
is  not  pleasant  to  have  to  state  that  among  the  fierce 
besiegers  were  the  celebrated  Sir  Walter  Raleigh,  the 
great  English  poet  Edmund  Spenser,  and  Hugh  O'Neill, 
then  serving  Elizabeth,  "for  policy's  sake,"  in  a  sub- 
ordinate capacity,  but  afterward  destined  to  be  the 
most  formidable  of  all  her  Irish  foes.  The  Munster 
Geraldines  were  exterminated,  except  for  a  few  col- 
lateral families — the  Knight  of  Kerry,  the  Knight  of 
Glin,  and  some  other  chiefs  whose  titles  still  survive. 
But  the  great  House  of  Desmond  vanished  forever  from 
history,  when  Garret  Fitzgerald,  the  last  earl,  after  all 
his  kinsmen  had  fallen  in  the  struggle,  was  betrayed  and 
murdered  by  a  mercenary  wretch,  named  Moriarty,  in 
a  peasant's  hut  in  Kerry,  not  far  from  Castle  Island. 
The  assassin  and  his  brutal  confederates  decapitated  the 
remains  and  sent  the  poor  old  head  to  Elizabeth,  in  Lon- 
don, who  caused  it  to  be  spiked  over  the  "traitor's  gate" 
of  the  Tower.  So  ended  the  Geraldine  revolt,  which 
raged  in  Munster  from  1578  to  1584,  until  all  that  fair 
land  was  a  desert  and  a  sepulchre.  The  bravest  battle 
fought  during  its  continuance  was  that  of  Glendalough, 
in  the  summer  of  1580.  This  was  on  the  soil  of  Leinster, 
and  the  victory  was  won  by  the  heroic  Clan  O'Byrne,  of 
Wicklow,  led  by  the  redoubtable  chief,  Fiach  MacHugh. 
The  English,  who  were  led  by  Lord  De  Grey  in  person, 
suffered  a  total  rout,  and  the  Lord  Deputy,  at  the  head 

126  The  People's  History  of  Ireland 

of  the  few  terrified  survivors,  fled  in  disgrace  to  Dublin, 
leaving  behind  him  the  dead  bodies  of  four  of  his  bravest 
and  ablest  captains — Audley,  Cosby,  Carew,  and  Moore. 

"Carew  and  Audley  deep  had  sworn  the  Irish  foe  to  tame, 
But  thundering  on  their  dying  ear  his  shout  of  victory  came; 
And  burns  with  shame  De  Grey's  knit  brow  and  throbs  with  rage 

his  eye, 
To  see  his  best,  in  wildest  rout,  from  Erin's  clansmen  fly." 

The  defeat  and  death  of  "Shane  the  Proud"  had  left 
Ulster,  temporarily,  without  a  military  chief  competent 
to  make  head  against  the  English,  and,  therefore,  the 
Desmonds  were  left,  practically,  without  help  from  the 
northern  province.  Notwithstanding,  the  new  Lord  Dep- 
uty, Perrott,  kept  his  eyes  fixed  steadily  on  Ulster,  the 
fighting  qualities  of  whose  sons  he  knew  only  too  well. 
In  Tyrconnel  young  Hugh  Roe,  or  Red  Hugh,  O'Don- 
nell,  was  growing  fast  to  manhood,  and  his  fame  as  an 
athlete,  a  hunter,  and  hater  of  the  English,  spread  through- 
out Ireland.  Hugh  O'Neill,  the  son  of  Matthew,  Baron 
of  Dungannon,  was  enjoying  himself  at  Elizabeth's  court, 
where  he  made  the  acquaintance  of  Cecil,  Essex,  Bacon, 
Marshal  Bagnal,  Mountjoy,  and  numerous  other  celebri- 
ties, and  basked  in  the  sunshine  of  the  royal  favor,  which 
he  took  particular  pains  to  cultivate.  He  was  a  hand- 
some young  man,  of  middle  size,  rigidly  trained  to  arms, 
and  "shaped  in  proportion  fair."  The  queen's  object  was 
to  make  him  an  instrument  in  her  hands  for  the  final 
subjugation  of  Ireland.  He  seemed  to  enter  readily  into 
her  plans,  which  his  quick  intellect  at  once  comprehended, 
and  he  met  her  wiles  with  a  dissimulation  as  profound 
as  her  own.  If  any  man  ever  outwitted  Elizabeth,  po- 

The   People's   History  of  Ireland  127 

litically,  that  man  was  Hugh  O'Neill,  whom  she  finally 
created  Earl  of  Tyrone — a  title  which,  in  his  inmost 
heart,  he  despised,  much  preferring  his  hereditary  desig- 
nation of  "The  O'Neill."  But  it  was  not  Hugh's  imme- 
diate purpose  to  quarrel  with  Elizabeth  about  titles,  or,  in 
fact,  anything  else.  He  was  graciously  permitted  to  raise 
a  body-guard  of  his  own  clansmen,  and  to  arm  and  drill 
them  at  his  pleasure.  .  Nay,  more,  the  queen  allowed  him 
to  send  from  England  shiploads  of  lead  wherewith  to 
put  a  new  roof  on  his  castle  of  Dungannon.  And  he 
went  to  Ireland  to  look  after  his  interests  in  person. 
Soon,  rumors  reached  Elizabeth  that  O'Neill,  when  he 
had  sufficiently  drilled  one  batch  of  clansmen,  substituted 
another;  and  that  enough  lead  had  been  shipped  by  him 
from  England  to  Tyrone  to  roof  twenty  castles.  It  was 
further  rumored  that  the  clanswomen  of  Tyrone  were 
employed  casting  bullets  at  night,  instead  of  spinning 
and  weaving.  O'Neill,  learning  of  these  rumors  from 
English  friends,  repaired  to  London,  and,  at  once,  reas- 
sured the  queen  as  to  his  "burning  loyalty  and  devotion 
to  her  person."  So  he  was  permitted  to  return  to  Dun- 
gannon unmolested.  Unlike  his  fierce  kinsman,  John  the 
Proud,  Hugh  cultivated  the  friendship  of  all  the  Ulster 
chiefs,  within  reach,  and  more  particularly  that  of  the 
brave  and  handsome  young  Red  Hugh  O'Donnell.  Nor 
did  he  confine  his  friendly  relations  to  the  chiefs  of  Ul- 
ster. He  also  perfected  good  understandings  with  many 
in  the  other  three  provinces,  and  managed  to  keep  on  good 
terms  with  the  English  also.  Indeed,  he  did  not  hesitate 
to  take  the  field  occasionally  "in  the  interest  of  the  queen," 
and,  on  one  occasion,  during  a  skirmish  in  Munster,  re- 
ceived a  wound  in  the  thigh.  How  could  Elizabeth 

128  The  People's  History  of  Ireland 

doubt  that  one  who  shed  his  blood  for  her  could  be  other- 
wise than  devoted  to  her  service?  O'Neill,  no  doubt, 
liked  the  queen,  but  he  loved  Ireland  and  liberty  much 
better.  In  his  patriotic  deceit  he  only  followed  the  ex- 
ample set  him  at  the  English  court.  He  kept  "open 
house"  at  Dungannon  Castle  for  all  who  might  choose 
or  chance  to  call.  Among  others,  he  received  the  wrecked 
survivors  of  the  Spanish  Armada  cast  away  on  the  wild 
Ulster  coast,  and  shipped  them  back  to  Spain,  at  his  own 
expense,  laden  with  presents  for  their  king.  A  kinsman, 
Hugh  of  the  Fetters — an  illegitimate  son  of  John  the 
Proud  by  the  wife  of  O'Donnell,  already  mentioned — 
betrayed  his  secret  to  the  English  Government.  He- ex- 
plained his  action  to  the  satisfaction  of  the  Lord  Deputy, 
for  he  had  a  most  persuasive  tongue.  Having  done  so, 
he  exercised  his  hereditary  privilege  of  the  chief  O'Neill, 
arrested  Hugh  of  the  Fetters,  had  him  tried  for  treason, 
and,  it  is  said,  executed  him  with  his  own  hand,  because 
he  could  find  no  man  in  Tyrone  willing  to  kill  an  O'Neill, 
even  though  proven  a  craven  traitor. 

Lord  Deputy  Perrott,  in  1587,  or  thereabout,  con- 
cocted a  plan  by  which  he  got  the  young  O'Donnell, 
whose  rising  fame  he  dreaded,  into  his  power.  A  sailing- 
vessel,  laden  with  wine  and  other  merchandise,  was  sent 
around  the  coast  of  Ireland  from  Dublin  and  cast  anchor 
in  Lough  Swilly,  at  a  point  opposite  to  Rathmullen.  Red 
Hugh  and  his  friends,  young  like  himself,  were  engaged 
in  hunting  and  fishing  when  the  vessel  appeared  in  the 
bay.  The  captain,  in  the  friendliest  manner,  invited 
O'Donnell  and  his  companions  on  board.  They  consented, 
and  were  plied  with  wine.  By  the  time  they  were  ready 
to  return  to  shore,  they  found  the  hatches  battened  down 

The  People's  History  of  Ireland  129 

and  the  ship  under  way  for  Dublin.  And  thus,  meanly 
and  most  treacherously,  was  the  kidnapping  of  this  noble 
youth  and  his  friends  accomplished  by,  supposedly,  an 
English  gentleman. 

O'Donnell,  after  a  confinement  of  three  years  in  Dublin 
Castle,  managed  to  effect  his  escape,  in  company  with 
some  fellow  captives.  But  they  missed  their  way,  and 
were  overtaken  and  captured  in  the  territory  of  O'Tuhill, 
at  a  place  now  called  Powerscourt,  in  the  county  Wick- 
low.'  A  second  attempt,  made  two  years  later  on,  proved 
more  successful,  and  the  escaping  party  managed  to 
reach  the  tribe-land  of  the  O'Byrnes,  whose  brave  chief, 
Fiach  MacHugh,  received  and  sheltered  them.  Art 
O'Neill,  one  of  Red  Hugh's  companions,  perished  of 
cold  and  hunger — the  season  being  winter — on  the  trip; 
and  O'Donnell's  feet  were  so  badly  frozen  that  he  was 
partially  disabled  for  life.  This  fact  did  not,  however, 
interfere  with  his  warlike  activity.  O'Byrne  at  once  in- 
formed Hugh  O'Neill  of  Red  Hugh's  escape  and  where- 
abouts, and  the  Ulster  chief  sent  a  guide,  who  brought 
him  safely  to  Dungannon,  where  he  was  royally  enter- 
tained and  admitted  to  the  knowledge  of  O'Neill's  secret 
policy,  which,  as  may  have  been  surmised,  aimed  at  the 
overthrow  of  English  rule  in  Ireland. 

After  resting  sufficiently,  O'Donnell  proceeded  to  Tyr- 
connel,  where  he  was  joyfully  received  by  his  people. 
His  father,  old  and  unenterprising,  determined  to  abdi- 
cate the  chieftaincy  in  his  favor,  and,  accordingly,  Red 
Hugh  was  proclaimed  "The  O'Donnell,"  with  all  the  an- 
cient forms.  He  proceeded  with  characteristic  rigor  to 
baptize  his  new  honors  in  the  blood  of  his  foes.  Old 
Turlough  O'Neill  had  weakly  permitted  an  English  gar- 

130  The  People's  History  of  Ireland 

rison  to  occupy  his  castle  of  Strabane.  O'Donnell  at- 
tacked it  furiously  and  put  all  of  the  garrison  to  the 
sword.  He  followed  up  this  warlike  blow  with  many 
others,  and  soon  struck  terror  into  the  hearts  of  all  the 
"Englishry"  and  their  much  more  despicable  Irish  allies, 
on  the  borders  of  Ulster  and  Connaught.  His  most  ac- 
tive and  efficient  ally  in  these  stirring  operations  was 
Hugh  McGuire,  Prince  of  Fermanagh — the  best  cavalry 
commander  produced  by  either  party  during  the  long  and 
devastating  Elizabethan  wars. 


Confiscation  of  Desmond's  Domains — English  Plantation  of  Munster 

HPHERE  had  been,  of  course,  a  general  "confiscation 
A  to  the  Crown" — that  is,  to  the  English  "carpet-bag- 
gers"— of  the  broad  domains  of  the  defeated  Desmonds, 
and  their  allies,  and  among  the  aliens  who  profited 
greatly  thereby,  for  a  time,  at  least,  were  the  poetic  Ed- 
mund Spenser,  who  obtained  the  castle  and  lands  of  Kil- 
colman,  in  Cork,  and  Sir  Walter  Raleigh,  who  fell  in  for 
extensive  holdings  in  Youghal,  at  the  mouth  of  the  south- 
ern Blackwater,  and  its  neighborhood.  In  the  garden  of 
Myrtle  Grove  House,  Sir  Walter's  Youghal  residence, 
potatoes,  obtained  from  Virginia,  were  first  planted  in 
Ireland,  and  the  first  pipeful  of  tobacco  was  smoked. 
In  connection  with  the  latter  event,  a  story  is  told  that 
a  servant-girl,  about  to  scrub  the  floors,  seeing  smoke 
issuing  from  Sir  Walter's  nose  and  mouth,  conceived  him 
to  be  on  fire,  and  emptied  the  contents  of  her  pail  over 

The  People's   History  of  Ireland  131 

him,  in  order,  as  she  explained,  "to  put  him  out."  Sir 
Walter,  we  may  be  sure,  did  not  relish  her  method  of 
fighting  "the  fire  fiend." 

The  Desmond  confiscation  was  by  no  means  the  first 
case  of  the  kind  on  record  in  Ireland.  The  original  Ger- 
aldines  took  the  lands  by  force  from  the  Celtic  tribes, 
but  they  speedily  amalgamated  with  the  natives,  and, 
within  a  few  generations,  became  full-fledged  Irish  in 
every  characteristic,  except  their  family  name.  Neither 
was  this  great  confiscation  the  last,  or  greatest,  as  will  be 
seen  in  the  progress  of  this  narrative.  The  queen's  min- 
isters caused  letters  to  be  written  to  the  officers  of  every 
"shire"  in  England,  "generously"  offering  Desmond's 
plundered  lands  in  fee  simple — that  is,  practically,  free  of 
cost — to  all  younger  brothers,  of  good  families,  who 
would  undertake  the  plantation  of  Munster.  Each  of 
these  favored  colonists  was  allowed  to  "plant"  a  certain 
number  of  British,  or  Anglo-Irish,  families,  but  it  was 
specifically  provided  that  none  of  the  native — that  is,  the 
Celtic  and  Catholic  and  the  Norman-Catholic — Irish  were 
to  be  admitted  to  the  privilege.  The  country  had  been 
made  "a  smoking  desert"  before  this  plantation  of  for- 
eigners was  begun.  Most  of  the  rightful  owners  had  per- 
ished by  famine  and  the  sword,  and  those  who  still  sur- 
vived, "starvation  being,  in  some  instances,  too  slow, 
crowds  of  men,  women,  and  children  were  sometimes 
driven  into  buildings,  which  were  then  set  on  fire"  (Mitch- 
el's  "Life  of  Hugh  O'Neill,  page  68).  "The  soldiers 
were  particularly  careful  to  destroy  all  Irish  infants,  'for, 
if  they  were  suffered  to  grow  up,  they  would  become 
Popish  rebels.' '  (Ibid.  pp.  68,  69.)  It  is  related  by  the 
historian  Lombard  that  "women  were  found  hanging 

132  The   People's  History  of  Ireland 

upon  trees,  with  their  children  strangled  in  the  mother's 

And  all  this  was  done  in  the  name  of  the  "reformed 
religion."  In  good  truth,  although  Elizabeth  herself  may 
have  wished  to  make  the  Irish  people  Protestant  in  order 
that  they  might  become  more  obedient  to  her  spiritual 
and  temporal  sway,  her  agents  in  Ireland  wished  for 
nothing  of  the  kind.  They  wished  the  Irish  masses  to 
remain  Catholic.  Otherwise,  they  would  have  had  no 
good  pretext  for  destroying  them  and  usurping  their 
lands.  And  this,  too,  satisfactorily  explains  why,  for  a 
very  long  period,  the  Irish  national  resistance  to  Eng- 
land was  considered  and  described  as  a  purely  Catholic, 
sectarian  movement.  Protestantism,  in  the  period  of 
which  we  write,  meant,  to  the  average  Irish  mind,  Eng- 
land's policy  of  conquest  and  spoliation  in  -Ireland.  It 
is  hardly  wonderful,  therefore,  that  there  grew  up  be- 
tween the  followers  of  the  old  and  new  creeds  an  animos- 
ity doubly  bitter — the  animosity  of  race  supplemented  by 
that  of  religion.  In  our  own  days,  we  have  seen  the 
same  -result  in  the  Polish  provinces  of  Russia  and  the 
Turkish  principalities  in  the  Danubian  region  of  Europe. 
Well  might  the  poet  ask — 

"And  wherefore  can  not  kings  be  great, 

And  rule  with  man  approving? 
And  why  should  creeds  enkindle  hate 
And  all  their  precepts  loving?" 

The  People's  History  of  Ireland  133 

Conditions  in  Ulster  Before  the  Revolt  of  O'Neill 

THE  first  jury  "trial"  in  Ulster  was  that  of  Hugh 
Roe  MacMahon,  chieftain  of  Monaghan,  who  be- 
came entangled  with  Lord  Deputy  Fitzwilliam  in  some 
one-sided  "alliance,"  and,  failing  in  some  slight  particular 
to  keep  his  side  of  the  contract,  was  "tried"  by  twelve 
soldiers  in  Elizabeth's  pay,  condemned  to  death  and  shot 
at  his  own  door.  This  and  other  brutal  murders,  attested 
by  the  English  historian,  Moryson,  filled  the  north  with 
rage,  and  the  very  name  of  English  "law"  became  a  men- 
ace and  a  terror  throughout  the  length  and  breadth  of 
Ulster.  From  that  bloody  period  dates  the  hatred  and 
distrust  of  English  "justice"  which  still  survives  among 
the  Irish  people.  Indeed,  instances  of  judicial  murder,' 
almost  rivaling  that  of  MacMahon  Roe,  might  be  cited 
by  living  Irishmen  as  having  occurred  within  their  own 
experience.  Elizabeth's  deputy,  Fitzwilliam,  who  was  a 
consummate  scoundrel  and  jobber  in  bribes,  and  would 
have  made  a  champion  modern  "boodle  alderman,"  suc- 
ceeded in  making  the  very  name  of  "shire,"  or  county, 
land  detested  in  Ireland.  When  he  informed  McGuire, 
the  bold  chief  of  Fermanagh,  that  he  was  about  to  send 
a  sheriff  into  his  "county"  to  "empanel  juries,"  the  chief 
answered  grimly,  "Let  him  come ;  but,  first,  let  me  know 
his  eric  (price  of  his  blood),  so  that,  if  my  people  should 
cut  off  his  head,  I  may  levy  it  on  the  country."  This 
was  the  Irish  method  under  the  Brehon  law.  No  sheriff 

134  The  People's  History  of  Ireland 

appeared  in  Fermanagh  for  many  a  year  after  McGuire's 
significant  statement. 

Red  Hugh  O'Donnell  continued  to  make  things  ex- 
ceedingly lively  for  the  English  garrisons  in  Ulster  and 
Connaught,  and  made  them  take  to  the  cover  of  their 
strong  places  after  nearly  every  encounter.  Near  Ennis- 
killen,  the  gallant  Hugh  McGuire,  aided  by  a  small  body 
of  the  clansmen  of  Tyrone,  who  came  "on  the  quiet," 
under  the  command  of  O'Neill's  brother,  Cormac,  met  a 
large  English  escort,  who  were  conveying  supplies  to  the 
town,  to  which  Red  Hugh  O'Donnell  had  laid  siege,  at 
a  ford  of  the  river  Erne.  The  English  suffered  a  total 
rout,  and  their  bread-wagons  having  been  lost  in  the 
current,  or  overturned  in  the  shallows,  the  spot  is  known 
to  this  day  as  Bael-atha-an-Biscoid — in  English  "the  Ford 
of  Biscuits."  Red  Hugh,  who  had  gone  to  Derry  to 
meet  a  body  of  the  Antrim  Scots,  who  were  coming  to 
his  aid,  was  necessarily  absent  when  the  battle  was  fought, 
and,  on  hearing  of  the  victory,  remarked  he  was  "sorry 
he  had  not  been  in  the  fight,  as  he  would  have  prevented 
the  escape  of  so  many  of  the  English."  The  latter  began 
to  perceive,  by  this  time,  that  they  had  to  "strip  for  the 
combat"  in  earnest  if  they  meant  to  retain  their  foot- 
hold on  the  borders  of  Ulster. 

Rumors  of  O'Neill's  disaffection  had  again  reached 
the  queen,  and  again  he  journeyed  to  London  and  reas- 
sured her  of  his  "loyalty."  He  even  made  great  show  of 
accepting  the  English  title  of  Earl  of  Tyrone,  and  re- 
turned to  Dungannon  encumbered  with  the  gold  chain, 
symbolical  of  his  new  "rank."  This  did  not  please  his 
clansmen,  who  could  not  see  into  his  dissembling  schemes, 
so  he  was  obliged  to  placate  them  by  consenting  to  be 

The  People's   History  of  Ireland  135 

installed  as  The  O'Neill — a  title  he  very  much  preferred 
to  his  English  one  of  Earl — at  the  rath  of  Tulloghoge 
(Hill  of  the  Youths),  in  his  native  Tyrone.  Thomas 
Davis,  the  poet  of  Young  Ireland — a  party  of  Irish 
literary  men  and  high-souled  patriots  who  flourished  from 
1842  until  1848 — in  his  fine  ballad  of  the  "True  Irish 
King,"  gives  a  vivid  picture  of  the  scene  in  the  follow- 
ing lines : 

"Unsandaled  he  stands  on  the  foot-dinted  rock; 
Like  a  pillar-stone  fixed  against  every  shock. 
Round,  round  as  the  rath,  on  a  far-seeing  hill, 
Like  his  blemishless  honor  and  vigilant  will. 
The  graybeards  are  telling  how  chiefs  by  the  score 
Had  been  crowned  on  the  rath  of  the  kings  heretofore: 
While  crowded,  yet  ordered,  within  its  green  ring, 
Are  the  dynasts  and  priests  round  the  True  Irish  King. 

"The  chronicler  read  him  the  laws  of  the  clan, 
And  pledged  him  to  bide  by  their  blessing  and  ban. 
His  skian  and  his  sword  are  unbuckled  to  show 
That  they  only  were  meant  for  a  foreigner  foe; 
A  white  willow  wand  has  been  put  in  his  hand — 
A  type  of  pure,  upright,  and  gentle  command, 
While  hierarchs  are  blessing,  the  slipper  they  fling 
And  O'Cahan  proclaims  him  a  True  Irish  King. 

"Thrice  looked  he  to  heaven  with  thanks  and  with  prayer, 
Thrice  looked  to  his  borders  with  sentinel  stare — 
To  the  waves  of  Lough  Neagh,  to  the  heights  of  Strabane; 
And  thrice  to  his  allies,  and  thrice  to  his  clan — 
One  clash  on  their  bucklers — one  more — they  are  still — 
What  means  the  deep  pause  on  the  crest  of  the  hill  ? 
Why  gaze  they  above  him?    A  war  eagle's  wing! 
"Tis  an  omen — hurrah  for  the  True  Irish  King!'" 

Those  who  may  condemn  the  apparently  tortuous  pol- 
icy of  O'Neill  must  bear  in  mind  that  he  was  only  prac- 
ticing against  the  enemies  of  his  country  the  double- 
Ireland— 7  Vol.  L 

136  The  People's  History  of  Ireland 

dealing  and  subtle  acts  they  had  themselves  taught  him, 
in  order  to  make  him  a  more  facile  instrument  in  their 
hands  for  that  country's  subjugation.  The  dark  and 
qrooked  policy  inculcated  by  Machiavelli  was  then  in 
vogue  at  all  the  European  courts,  and  at  none  was  it 
practiced  more  thoroughly  than  at  that  of  Elizabeth  of 
England.  It  must  be  admitted  that  the  English  found 
in  Hugh  O'Neill  a  very  apt  pupil — a  true  case  of  "dia- 
mond cut  diamond." 

O'Neill  Draws  the  Sword — Victories  of  Clontibret  and  Armagh 

MARSHAL  SIR  HENRY  BAGNAL— one  of  Eliza- 
beth's most  potent  military  commanders — had 
never  liked  Hugh  O'Neill,  whom  he  had  often  met  in 
London  and  Dublin,  but  this  hatred  of  the  Irish  prince 
was  not  shared  by  the  marshal's  fair  sister,  the  Lady 
Mabel  Bagnal,  who  presided  over  his  mansion  at  Newry, 
where  were  established  the  headquarters  of  the  English 
army  in  Ulster.  Lady  Mabel  was  one  of  the  most  beau- 
tiful of  women,  and  O'Neill,  who  had  become  a  widower, 
grew  desperately  enamored  of  her.  He  managed  to  elude 
the  vigilance  of  the  hostile  brother,  and,  assisted  by  a 
friendly  "Saxon,"  succeeded  in  eloping  with  and  making 
her  his  wife.  The  elopement  rilled  Sir  Henry  with  fury. 
He  entered  into  a  conspiracy  against  O'Neill  with  other 
Englishmen  and  Palesmen.  A  new  Lord  Deputy  had 
come  over  from  England  in  the  person  of  Sir  William 
Russell.  Charges  against  O'Neill  were  laid  before  him. 
He  communicated  with  the  Court  of  London  and  com- 

The  People's  History  of  Ireland  137 

mands  soon  came  to  arrest  the  Chief  of  Tyrone  without 
delay.  O'Neill,  as  usual,  had  means  of  secret  informa- 
tion and  soon  knew  all  about  the  plot  laid  for  his  destruc- 
tion. Instead  of  being  dismayed,  he  hastened,  at  once, 
to  Dublin  and  surprised  his  treacherous  accusers  in  the 
midst  of  their  deliberations.  His  old-time  friend,  the 
Earl  of  Ormond,  stood  by  him  and  refused  to  be  a  party 
to  the  treachery  planned  by  the  new  Lord  Deputy.  When 
a  similar  order  had  reached  Ormond  himself  from  Lord 
Burleigh— ancestor  of  the  late  Prime  Minister  of 
England — the  earl  replied  scornfully  in  these  words: 
"My  lord,  I  will  never  use  treachery  to  any  man,  for  it 
would  both  touch  her  Highness's  honor  and  my  own 
credit  too  much;  and  whosoever  gave  the  queen  advice 
thus  to  write  is  fitter  for  such  base  service  than  I  am. 
Saving  my  duty  to  her  Majesty,  I  would  I  might  have 
revenge  by  my  sword  of  any  man  that  thus  persuadeth 
the  queen  to  write  to  me."  Noble  words,  gallant  Ormond ! 
The  earl,  feeling  convinced  that  Lord  Russell,  who  was 
not  much  affected  by  honorable  scruples,  would  obey  the 
order  from  the  queen  and  arrest  O'Neill,  advised  the  lat- 
ter to  fly  from  Dublin  the  very  night  of  his  arrival.  The 
Ulster  prince  thought  this  very  good  advice  and  accepted 
Ormond's  friendly  offices.  He  managed  to  make  his  way 
in  safety  to  Dungannon  and  at  once  set  about  perfecting 
his  preparations  for  open  warfare  with  the  generals  of 
Elizabeth.  The  latter  were  not  idle  either,  for  Russell 
surmised  O'Neill's  intention  and  sent  Sir  John  Norreys 
(Norris),  an  experienced  general,  just  returned  from 
the  wars  in  Flanders,  to  command  against  him.  The  re- 
mainder of  the  year  1594,  as  well  as  some  of  the  suc- 
ceeding year,  was  spent  in  useless  negotiations,  for  both 

138  The  People's  History  of  Ireland 

parties  well  knew  that  war  was  now  inevitable.  O'Don- 
nell,  McGuire,  and  some  other  chiefs  kept  up  a  fierce, 
but  rather  desultory,  warfare,  greatly  annoying  the  En- 
glish garrisons  in  the  border  strongholds.  At  last,  in 
the  early  summer  of  1595,  O'Neill  threw  off  the  mask, 
unfurled  the  Red  Hand  of  Ulster,  and  marched  against 
the  Castle  of  Monaghan,  held  by  the  enemy.  In  the 
midst  of  a  siege  but  feebly  carried  on  for  lack  of  a  bat- 
tering train,  he  heard  that  Norreys,  with  a  powerful 
force,  was  advancing  northward  to  raise  the  siege. 
O'Neill  at  once  decided  to  anticipate  his  movement  and 
moved  to  Clontibret,  about  five  miles  off,  and  there  took 
post.  Norreys  soon  appeared,  and,  being  a  hot  soldier, 
attacked  at  once.  He  was  met  with  a  veteran  firmness 
that  astonished  him,  and  both  he  and  his  brother,  Sir 
Thomas  Norreys,  were  wounded  in  the  main  attack  on 
the  Irish  battle-line.  At  the  moment  when  all  seemed 
lost  for  England,  Colonel  Segrave,  an  Anglo-Norman  of 
Meath,  charged  the  Irish  home,  with  a  body  of  horse, 
and,  for  a  time,  restored  the  battle.  Segrave,  himself, 
rushed  madly  on  O'Neill  and  the  two  leaders  fought 
hand  to  hand  for  some  time,  while  both  armies  stood 
still  to  witness  the  result.  Mr.  Mitchel  thus  eloquently 
describes  what  followed :  "Segrave  again  dashed  his  horse 
against  the  chief,  flung  his  giant  frame  upon  his  enemy, 
and  endeavored  to  unhorse  him  by  the  weight  of  his  gaunt- 
leted  hand.  O'Neill  grasped  him  in  his  arms,  and  the 
combatants  rolled,  in  that  fatal  embrace,  to  the  ground. 

'Now,  gallant  Saxon !  hold  thine  own — 
No  maiden's  hand  is  round  thee  thrown! 
That  .desperate  grasp  thy  frame  might  feel 
Through  bars  of  brass  and  triple  steel.' 

The  People's  History  of  Ireland  139 

"There  was  a  moment's  deadly  wrestle  and  a  death 
groan.     The  shortened  sword  of  O'Neill  was  buried  in 
the  Englishman's  groin  beneath  his  mail.     Then  from 
the  Irish  ranks  rose  such  a  wild  shout  of  triumph  as  those 
hills  had  never  echoed  before.      The  still  thunder-cloud 
burst  into  a  tempest;  those  equestrian  statues  became  as 
winged  demons,  and  with  their  battle-cry  of  Lamh-dearg- 
ahoo!      ('The  Red  Hand  to  Victory'),  and  their  long 
lances  poised  in  eastern  fashion  above  their  heads,  down 
swept  the  chivalry  of  Tyrone  upon  the  astonished  ranks 
of  the  Saxon.     The  banner  of  St.  George  wavered  and 
went  down  before  that  furious  charge.      The  English 
turned  their  bridle-reins  and  fled  headlong  over  the  stream 
(which  they  had  crossed  to  attack  the  Irish),  leaving  the 
field  covered  with  their  dead,  and,  worse  than  all,  leaving 
with  the  Irish  that  proud  red-cross  banner,  the  first  of 
their  disgraces  in  those  Ulster  wars.    Norreys  hastily  re- 
treated  southward,    and   the   castle   of   Monaghan   was 
yielded  to  O'Neill." 

About  the  same  time,  Red  Hugh  O'Donnell  "prevailed 
mightily"  in  the  west,  "so  that,"  says  Mitchel,  "at  the 
close  of  the  year  1595,  the  Irish  power  predominated 
both  in  Ulster  and  Connaught."  O'Neill  followed  up 
his  success  by  laying  siege  to  Armagh,  which  he  captured 
by  an  ingenious  stratagem.  Colonel  Stafford  had  been 
appointed  to  the  command  of  the  English  in  the  old  city, 
and  he  proved  himself  equal  to  the  occasion,  so  far  as 
fighting  bravely  to  hold  it  went.  But  provisions  were 
running  low,  and  it  was  known  to  Stafford  that  Norreys 
was  sending  to  him,  from  Dundalk,  a  large  convoy  of 
provisions.  O'Neill's  scouts  had  the  same  information, 
so  a  body  of  Irish  was  detached  to  attack  the  convoy 

140  The  People's  History  of  Ireland 

and  capture  the  rations.  The  movement  proved  success- 
ful. About  three  hundred  English  soldiers  were  made 
prisoners.  O'Neill  ordered  them  to  be  stripped  of  their 
red  surtouts,  and  bade  the  same  number  of  his  clansmen 
to  put  the  garments  on  their  own  backs.  Then  he  com- 
manded the  convoy  to  march  toward  Armagh  as  if  noth- 
ing had  happened.  Meanwhile,  he  had  caused  his  rela- 
tive, Con  O'Neill,  to  occupy  an  old  ruined  abbey  near  the 
main  gate  of  the  city.  All  this  was  accomplished  under 
cover  of  the  night.  At  sunrise,  Stafford  and  his  hungry 
soldiers,  from  the  ramparts,  gazed  wistfully  southward, 
and,  to  their  great  joy,  beheld,  as  they  imagined,  the  con- 
voy marching  rapidly  to  their  relief.  Almost  on  the  in- 
stant, it  was,  seemingly,  attacked  by  the  Irish  army. 
Volleys — blank  cartridges  being  used — were  exchanged, 
and  many  men  appeared  to  fall  on  both  sides.  At  last, 
the  supposititious  English  seemed  about  to  give  way. 
Stafford  and  his  famished  men  could  stand  the  sight 
no  longer.  They  rushed  through  the  now  open  gate  to 
the  aid  of  their  countrymen,  as  they  thought.  To  their 
amazement,  both  red  coats  and  saffron  shirts  fell  upon 
them,  and  they  perceived  they  had  been  tricked.  A  brave 
attempt  was  made  by  them  to  re-enter  the  town,  but  Con 
O'Neill  and  his  party,  rushing  from  the  old  ruin,  seized 
the  gate.  All  the  English  outside  the  walls  were  cap- 
tured. Soon  afterward,  the  city  itself  surrendered  to 
the  Irish  leader.  O'Neill  made  humane  use  of  his  vic- 
tory. He  disarmed  and  paroled  the  English  prisoners 
and  sent  them,  under  safe  escort,  back  to  General  Nor- 
reys.  He  was  a  man  of  strict  honor,  and,  no  doubt,  the 
terms  of  the  capitulation  were  properly  observed.  The 
Irish  dismantled  Armagh,  as  O'Neill  had  no  need  of  for- 

The  People's  History  of  Ireland  141 

tresses,  but,  during  his  absence  elsewhere,  some  English 
made  their  way  to  the  place  and  refortified  it ;  only,  how- 
ever, to  have  it  retaken  by  the  Irish  army.  oAiV*C 


Ireland  Still  Victorious— Battles  of  Tyrrell's  Pass  and  TDrumflufcli  '"* 

THE  year  1597  witnessed  the  recall  of  Lord  Deputy 
Russell  from  the  government  of  Ireland,  and  the 
substitution  of  Lord  De  Burgh.  A  temporary  truce  was 
entered  into  by  the  belligerents,  and  neither  side  lost  any 
time  in  augmenting  its  strength.  All  Ulster  was  prac- 
tically freed  from  English  rule,  but  they  had  garrisons 
shut  up  in  the  castles  of  Carrickfergus,  Newry,  Dundrum, 
Carlingford,  Greencastle,  and  Olderfleet— all  on  the  coast. 
When  the  truce  came  to  an  end,  the  Palesmen  organized 
a  large  force  and  prepared  to  send  it  northward,  to  aid 
those  garrisons,  under  young  Barnewall,  son  of  Lord 
Trimleston.  O'Neill  detached  a  force  of  400  men  un- 
der the  brave  Captain  Richard  Tyrrell  and  his  lieutenant, 
O' Conor,  to  ambush  and  destroy  it.  Tyrrell  moved 
promptly  to  accomplish  his  mission,  and  rapidly  pene- 
trated to  the  present  county  of  Westmeath.  There,  at  a 
defile  now  known  as  Tyrrell's  Pass,  not  far  from  Mullin- 
gar,  he  awaited  the  coming  of  the  Palesmen.  In  the 
narrow  pass,  the  latter  could  not  deploy,  so  that  the  bat- 
tle was  fought  by  the  heads  of  columns,  which  gave  the 
advantage  to  the  Irish.  Some  of  the  latter  managed  to 
get  on  the  flanks  of  the  Palesmen,  and  a  terrible  slaugh- 
ter ensued.  Of  the  thousand  Palesmen,  only  Barnewall 
himself  and  one  soldier  escaped  the  swords  of  tne  venge- 

142  The  People's  History  of  Ireland 

ful  natives.  The  former  was  brought  a  prisoner  to 
O'Neill,  who  held  him  as  a  hostage,  and  the  soldier  car- 
ried the  dread  news  of  the  annihilation  of  the  Meathian 
force  to  Mullingar. 

But  the  Lord  Deputy  and  the  Earl  of  Kildare,  with  all 
the  force  they  could  muster,  were  in  full  march  for  Ulster. 
Sir  Conyers  Clifford,  another  veteran  Englishman,  at- 
tempted to  join  them  from  the  side  of  Connaught,  but 
was  met  by  Red  Hugh  O'Donnell  and  compelled  to  go 
back  the  way  he  came,  leaving  many  of  his  men  behind 
him.  At  a  place  called  Drumfluich,  the  Lord  Deputy  and 
Kildare,  who  were  en  route  to  recapture  Portmore,  which 
had  fallen  into  the  hands  of  O'Neill,  encountered  the 
Irish  army.  The  latter  was  strongly  posted  on  the  banks 
of  the  northern  Blackwater,  but  the  English  attacked  with 
great  resolution,  drove  its  vanguard  across  the  river  and 
took  possession  of  Portmore.  O'Neill,  however,  held  his 
main  body  well  in  hand,  and  while  De  Burgh  was  con- 
gratulating himself  on  his  success,  fiercely  attacked  the 
English  who  had  crossed  to  the  left  bank  of  the  river, 
and  inflicted  on  them  a  most  disastrous  defeat.  The 
Lord  Deputy  and  the  Earl  of  Kildare  were  both  mortally 
wounded,  and  died  within  a  few  hours.  The  English 
army  was  practically  destroyed.  Red  Hugh  O'Donnell 
had  arrived  in  the  nick  of  time  to  complete  the  victory, 
and,  with  him,  the  Antrim  MacDonalds,  whose  prowess 
received  due  honor.  The  historian  of  Hugh  O'Neill  says, 
succinctly:  "That  battlefield  is  called  Drumfluich.  It 
lies  about  two  miles  westward  from  Blackwater-town 
(built  on  the  site  of  Portmore),  and  Battleford-bridge 
marks  the  spot  where  the  English  reddened  the  river  in 
their  flight." 

The  People's  History  of  Ireland  143 

But  Captain  Williams,  a  valiant  "Saxon,"  held  Port- 
more,  in  spite  of  O'Neill's  great  victory,  and  this  fortress, 
in  the  heart  of  his  country,  proved  a  thorn  in  the  side  of 
Tyrone,  who,  as  we  have  already  mentioned,  was  desti- 
tute of  battering-  appliances  for  many  a  day.  The  result 
at  Drumfluich  struck  dismay  into  the  hearts  of  the  stout- 
est soldiers  of  the  English  interest,  and  the  dreaded  names 
of  O'Neill  and  the  Blackwater  were  on  every  trembling 
lip  throughout  the  Pale.  The  queen,  in  London,  grew 
very  angry,  and  rated  her  ministers  with  unusual  vehe- 
mence. It  was  fortunate  for  De  Burgh  and  Lord  Kil- 
dare  that  they  died  on  the  field  of  honor.  Otherwise,  they 
would  have  been  disgraced,  as  was  General  Norreys  for 
his  defeat  at  Clontibret.  He  died  of  a  broken  heart  soon 
after  being  deprived  of  his  command  in  Ulster. 

The  English  were  also  unfortunate  in  Connaught  and 
Munster,  and  when  the  Earl  of  Ormond  assumed  the 
government  of  Ireland,  by  appointment,  after  the  defeat 
and  death  of  De  Burgh,  the  English  interest  had  fallen 
lower  in  the  scale  than  it  had  been  since  the  days  of 
Richard  II.  The  earl  entered  into  a  two  months'  armis- 
tice with  O'Neill,  and  negotiations  for  a  permanent  peace 
were  begun.  O'Neill's  conditions  were :  perfect  freedom 
of  religion  not  only  in  Ulster  but  throughout  Ireland; 
reparation  for  the  spoil  and  ravage  done  upon  the  Irish 
country  by  the  garrisons  of  Newry  and  other  places,  and, 
finally,  entire  and  undisturbed  control  by  the  Irish  chiefs 
over  their  own  territories  and  people.  (Moryson,  Mc- 
Geoghegan,  and  Mitchel.) 

Queen  Elizabeth  was  enraged  at  these  terms,  when 
transmitted  to  her  by  Ormond,  and  sent  a  list  of  counter- 
terms  which  O'Neill  could  not  possibly  entertain.  He 

144  The  People's  History  of  Ireland 

saw  there  was  nothing  for  it  but  the  edge  of  the  sword, 
and  grew  impatient  at  the  tardiness  of  King  Philip  of 
Spain  in  not  sending  him  aid  while  he  was  prosecuting 
the  war  for  civil  and  religious  liberty  so  powerfully. 
The  English  Government,  in  order  to  discourage  the 
Catholic  powers  and  keep  them  from  coming  to  the  aid 
of  Ireland,  concealed  or  minimized  O'Neill's  splendid 
victories.  Lombard,  cited  by  McGeoghegan — a  most  con- 
scientious historian — avers  that  an  English  agent  was 
employed,  at  Brussels,  "to  publish  pretended  submis- 
sions, treaties,  and  pardons,  so  that  the  Spanish  governor 
of  Flanders  might  report  to  his  master  that  the  power 
of  the  Irish  Catholics  was  broken  and  their  cause  com- 
pletely lost."  (Mitchel.)  The  same  charge  has  been 
made  against  England  in  our  own  day — only  in  a  differ- 
ent connection.  Germany,  France,  and  Russia  have  semi- 
officially declared  that  English  agents  at  Berlin,  Paris, 
and  St.  Petersburg  have  persistently  misrepresented  the 
attitude  of  those  countries  toward  America  during  the 
recent  Spanish  War.  Whatever  may  have  been  the  truth 
regarding  the  Brussels  agent,  it  is  undeniable  that  King 
Philip  abandoned  Ireland  to  her  fate  until  it  was  too  late 
to  hinder  her  ruin ;  and  that,  when  Spanish  troops  landed 
at  Kinsale,  in  1601,  they  proved  more  of  a  hindrance 
than  a  help.  O'Neill  gave  up  all  hope  of  assistance  from 
Philip  in  the  fall  of  1597  and  resolved  to  stake  all  on  his 
genius  as  a  commander,  and  on  the  tried  valor  of  the 
glorious  clansmen  of  Tyrone  and  Tyrconnel. 

The  People's  History  of  Ireland  145 


Irish  Victory  of  the  Yellow  Ford,  Called  the  Bannockburn  of 

WE  dwell  at  greater  length  on  the  Elizabethan  era 
in  Ireland  than,  perhaps,  on  any  other,  because 
then  began  the  really  fatal  turn  in  the  fortunes  of  the 
Irish  nation.  Notwithstanding  splendid  triumphs  in  the 
field,  cunning  and  treachery  were  fated  to  overcome  pa- 
triotism and  heroic  courage.  But,  before  this  great  cloud 
gloomed  upon  her,  Ireland  was  still  destined  to  witness 
many  days  of  glory,  and  to  win  her  most  renowned 

The  spring  and  early  summer  of  1598  saw  Captain 
Williams  still  holding  Portmore,  on  the  Blackwater, 
stubbornly  for  England,  but  his  rations  were  nearly  ex- 
hausted and  he  managed  to  get  word  of  his  desperate 
condition  to  Marshal  Bagnal,  who,  at  the  head  of  a 
splendidly  appointed  army  of  veteran  troops,  horse  and 
foot,  marched  northward  from  Newry  to  his  succor. 
His  first  operations  were  successful  and  he  came  very 
near  to  capturing  O'Neill  himself,  at  a  place  called  Mul- 
laghbane,  not  far  from  Armagh.  Then  Bagnal  pushed 
on  to  raise  the  siege  of  Portmore,  where  Williams  was 
living  on  his  starved  horses  and  suffering  all  the  pangs 
of  hunger. 

O'Neill,  having  been  fully  informed  of  Marshal  Bag- 
nal's  progress,  summoned  O'Donnell  and  his  other  allies 
to  join  him  immediately,  which  they  did.  He  left  Port- 
more  to  the  famine-stricken  garrison,  and  turned  his  face 

146  The  People's  History  of  Ireland 

southward  fully  resolved  to  give  battle  to  his  redoubted 
brother-in-law  before  he  could  reach  the  Blackwater. 
Thoroughly  acquainted  with  the  character  of  the  country 
through  which  the  English  were  to  pass,  he  had  no  diffi- 
culty in  choosing  his  ground.  He  took  post,  therefore, 
in  the  hilly,  wooded,  and  marshy  angle  formed  by  the  Cal- 
lan  and  Blackwater  Rivers,  at  a  point  where  a  sluggish 
rivulet  runs  from  a  large  bog  toward  the  main  river,  and 
which  is  called,  in  the  Gaelic  tongue,  Beal-an-atha-buidhe, 
in  English,  "the  Mouth  of  the  Yellow  Ford,"  destined  to 
give  title  to  the  Irish  Bannockburn.  This  field  is  about 
two  and  one-half  miles  N.W.  from  Armagh. 

The  superb  English  array,  all  glittering  in  steel  armor 
and  with  their  arms  flashing  back  pencils  of  sunlight, 
Bagnal  himself  in  the  van,  appeared  at  the  opening  of 
the  wooded  pass,  which,  all  unknown  to  the  marshal,  was 
garrisoned  by  five  hundred  Irish  kerns  early  on  the  sul- 
try morning  of  August  loth — T.  D.  McGee  says  the 
1 5th — 1598.  The  head  of  the  column  was  attacked  im- 
mediately by  the  Celtic  infantry,  who,  however,  obedi- 
ent to  orders,  soon  fell  back  on  the  main  body,  which  was 
drawn  up  behind  a  breastwork,  in  front  of  which  was  a 
long  trench,  dug  pretty  deep,  and  concealed  by  wattles 
(dry  sticks)  and  fresh-cut  sods — a  stratagem  borrowed 
by  O'Neill  from  the  tactics  of  Bruce,  so  successfully  put 
in  practice  at  Bannockburn,  nearly  three  centuries  before. 
Having  finally  cleared  the  pass,  not  without  copious  blood- 
shed, Bagnal  debouched  from  it,  and  deployed  his  forces 
on  the  plain  in  face  of  the  Irish  army.  His  cavalry,  un- 
der Generals  Brooke,  Montacute,  and  Fleming,  shouting, 
"St.  George  for  England!"  charged  fiercely  up  to  the 
Irish  trench,  where  the  horses  floundered  in  the  covered 

The  People's  History  of  Ireland  147 

trap  set  for  them,  and  then  the  Irish  foot,  leaping  over 
their  breastwork,  piked  to  death  the  unfortunate  riders. 
Bagnal,  in  no  wise  daunted,  pressed  on  with  his  chosen 
troops,  animating  them  by  shout  and  gesture.  A  part 
of  the  Irish  works,  battered  by  his  cannon,  was  carried, 
and  the  English  thought  the  battle  won.  They  were  pre- 
paring to  follow  up  their  success  when,  suddenly,  O'Neill 
himself  appeared,  at  the  head  of  his  main  body,  who  had 
abandoned  their  slight  defences,  and  came  on  to  meet  the 
English  with  flashing  musketry  and  "push  of  pike." 
Bagnal's  artillery,  with  which  he  was  well  provided,  did 
much  damage  to  O'Neill's  men,  but  nothing  could  with- 
stand the  Irish  charge  that  day.  O'Donnell's  dashing 
clan  nobly  seconded  their  kinsmen  of  Tyrone,  and  a  most 
desperate  conflict  ensued.  Bagnal  and  his  soldiers  de- 
ported themselves  bravely,  as  became  tried  warriors,  but, 
in  the  crisis  of  the  fight,  the  marshel  fell,  a  wagon-load 
of  powder  exploded  in  the  English  lines,  their  ranks  be- 
came confused,  and  few  of  their  regiments  preserved 
their  formation.  The  Irish  cavalry  destroyed  utterly 
what  remained  of  the  English  horse.  "By  this  time," 
says  Mitchel,  "the  cannon  were  all  taken;  the  cries  of 
'St.  George'  had  failed  or  were  turned  to  death-shrieks, 
and  once  more,  England's  royal  standard  sank  before 
the  Red  Hand  of  Tyrone."  The  English  rout  was  ap- 
palling, and  the  chronicler  of  O'Donnell  says :  "They  were 
pursued  in  couples,  in  threes,  in  scores,  in  thirties,  and  in 
hundreds."  At  a  point  where  the  carnage  was  greatest, 
the  country  people  still  show  the  traveler  the  Bloody 
Loaming  (lane)  which  was  choked  with  corpses  on  that 
day  of  slaughter.  Two.  thousand  five  hundred  English 
soldiers  perished  in  the  battle  and  flight;  and  among  the 

148  The  People's  History  of  Ireland 

fallen  were  the  marshal,  as  already  related,  twenty-two 
other  superior  officers,  and  a  large  number  of  captains, 
lieutenants,  and  ensigns.  The  immediate  spoils  of  the 
victory  were  12,000  gold  pieces,  thirty-four  standards, 
all  the  musical  instruments  and  cannon,  and  an  immense 
booty  in  wagons,  loaded  with  clothing  and  provisions. 
The  Irish  army  lost  200  in  killed  and  three  times  that 
number  wounded.  By  O'Neill's  orders,  the  dead  of  both 
sides  were  piously  buried.  (Irish  annals  cited  by  Curry 
and  Mitchel.) 

Sir  Walter  Scott,  in  his  graphic  poem  of  "Rokeby," 
which  should  be  read  by  all  students,  as  it  deals  with  a 
stirring  period  of  English  history,  thus  refers  to  the  bat- 
tle of  the  Yellow  Ford  : 

"Who  has  not  heard,  while  Erin  yet 
Strove  'gainst  the  Saxon's  iron  bit, 
Who  has  not  heard  how  brave  O'Neill 
In  English  blood  imbrued  his  steel; 
Against  St.  George's  cross  blazed  high 
The  banners  of  his  tanistry — 
To  fiery  Essex  gave  the  foil 
And  reigned  a  prince  on  Ulster  soil? 
But  chief  arose  his  victor  pride 
When  that  brave  marshal  fought  and  died, 
And  Avonduff*  to  ocean  bore 
His  billows  red  with  Saxon  gore." 

The  survivors  of  Bagnal's  heroic,  if  defeated,  army, 
fled  to  Armagh,  which  had  again  fallen  into  the  posses- 
sion of  the  English,  and  there  took  shelter.  O'Neill  in- 
vested the  place  and,  being  now  provided  with  artillery, 
captured  from  the  enemy,  speedily  compelled  its  sur- 
render. The  gallant  Williams,  starved  out  at  Portmore, 
also  capitulated.  O'Neill,  with  his  customary  magnanim- 
*  Blackwater. 

The  People's  History  of  Ireland  149 

ity,  after  depriving  the  prisoners  of  both  places  of  their 
arms,  took  their  parole  and  sent  them  in  safety  to  the 
Pale,  and,  for  a  time,  all  English  power  whatever  van- 
ished from  the  soil  of  Ulster. 


How  O'Neill  Baffled  Essex— O'Donnell's  Victory  of  the  Curlew 


HP  HE  limits  of  this  simple  narrative  of  Irish  history 
1  will  not  permit  us  to  go  into  the  details  of  the  nu- 
merous "risings"  of  the  Irish  and  encounters  with  the 
disheartened  English  in  the  other  three  provinces.  O'Don- 
nell  swept  through  Connaught,  like  a  very  besom  of  de- 
struction, drove  the  English  generals  into  their  castles, 
and  other  strong  places,  and  carried  Athenry  by  storm, 
"sword  in  hand."  He  also  made  a  raid  into  Munster,  and 
punished  a  degenerate  O'Brien  of  Inchiquin  for  accept- 
ing an  English  title,  and  hugging  his  English  chain  as 
"Earl  of  Thomond."  Then  he  returned  to  Connaught 
and  finished  up  what  English  garrisons  still  remained 
there,  with  few  exceptions.  O'Neill  himself  also  made  a 
visit  to  Munster,  said  his  prayers  at  the  noble  shrine  of 
Holy  Cross  Abbey,  on  the  winding  Suir,  and,  the  legiti- 
mate— according  to  English  notions — Earl  of  Desmond 
being  dead,  set  up  an  earl  of  his  own.  He  "put  heart 
into"  the  rather  slow  and  cautious  Catholic  Anglo-Nor- 
mans of  this  province,  and  caused  them  to  join  hands  with 
their  Celtic  brothers  in  defence  of  country  and  creed. 
Under  the  new  earl,  they  attacked  the  English  with  great 
spirit,  and,  although  occasionally  beaten,  managed  to  hold 
I  the  upper  hand  in  most  cases. 

150  The  People's  History  of  Ireland 

In  Leinster,  the  O'Mores,  the  O'Byrnes,  the  OTuhills, 
and  the  Kavanaghs  had  also  risen  in  arms,  and  never  had 
Ireland  presented  so  united  a  military  front,  since  the 
first  landing  of  the  English  on  her  shore.  There  was 
fighting  everywhere,  but,  outside  of  O'Neill  and  O'Don- 
nell,  and,  perhaps,  the  new  Desmond,  there  would  not 
seem  to  have  been  a  concerted  military  plan — probably 
owing  to  the  rather  long  distances  between  the  respective 
bodies  and  the  difficulty  of  communication. 

Queen  Elizabeth,  when  she  heard  of  the  Irish  triumph 
at  the  Yellow  Ford,  was  violently  exasperated,  and 
stormed  against  Ormond,  her  Lord  Lieutenant,  for  re- 
maining in  Leinster,  skirmishing  with  the  O'Mores  and 
other  secondary  forces,  and  leaving  everything  in  the 
hands  of  O'Neill  in  Ulster.  She  was  now  an  aged 
woman,  but  still  vain  and  thirsty  for  admiration.  Her 
reigning  favorite  was  the  brilliant  Robert  Devereux, 
Earl  of  Essex,  who  had  made  a  reputation  in  the  Span- 
ish wars.  In  the  middle  of  1599,  this  favored  warrior, 
accompanied  by  a  picked  force  of  at  least  20,000  men, 
landed  in  Dublin  and  assumed  chief  command.  Instead 
of  at  once  moving  with  his  fine  army,  reinforced  by  the 
Palesmen  and  the  relics  of  Norreys'  and  Bagnal's  troops, 
against  O'Neill,  he  imitated  the  dilatory  tactics  of  Or- 
mond and  wasted  away  his  strength  in  petty  encounters 
with  the  hostile  tribes  of  Leinster  and  the  Anglo-Irish 
of  Munster,  most  of  whom  sided,  because  of  common 
religious  belief,  with  their  Celtic  neighbors.  He  also 
committed  the  grave  fault  of  bestowing  high  command 
on  favorites  who  possessed  no  capacity  for  such  duties. 
While  marching  to  besiege  Cahir  Castle,  in  the  present 
county  of  Tipperary,  he  was  obliged  to  pass  through  a 

The  People's  History  of  Ireland  151 

wooded  defile  in  Leix  (Queen's  County),  where  his  rear- 
guard of  cavalry  was  attacked  by  the  fierce  O' Mores  and 
cut  to  pieces.  The  Irish  tore  the  white  plumes  from 
the  helmets  of  the  fallen  English  troopers,  as  trophies, 
and  so  great  was  their  number  that  the  gorge  has  been 
called,  ever  since  that  tragical  day,  Bearna-na-cleite — in 
English,  the  "Pass  of  Plumes."  Essex,  notwithstand- 
ing this  disaster,  which  he  made  no  immediate  effort  to 
avenge,  marched  to  Cahir  and  took  the  castle;  but,  in 
subsequent  encounters  with  the  Munster  Irish,  he  suf- 
fered severe  reverses.  Near  Croom,  in  Limerick,  he 
was  met  by  the  Geraldines  and  their  allies  and  badly 
defeated.  Sir  Thomas  Norreys,  Lord  President  of 
Munster — brother  of  the  defeated  English  commander 
at  Clontibret — was  among  the  slain.  Thus  baffled,  the 
haughty  Essex  made  his  way  sadly  back  to  Dublin,  pur- 
sued for  a  whole  week  by  the  victorious  Geraldines. 
Smarting  under  his  disgrace,  he  caused  the  decimation 
of  an  English  regiment  that  had  fled  from  the  O'Mores 
— something  he  himself  had  also  been  in  the  habit  of 
doing.  He  had  no  heart  to  try  conclusions  with  the 
terrible  O'Neill  in  his  Ulster  fastnesses,  and  sent  many 
letters  of  excuse  to  the  queen,  in  which  he  dwelt  on 
the  strength  and  courage  of  the  Irish  clansmen  in  war, 
and  asked  for  further  reinforcements,  before  venturing 
against  O'Neill.  These  were  sent  him,  to  the  number 
of  several  thousand,  and,  at  length,  he  seemed  ready  to 
move.  Sir  Conyers  Clifford,  a  very  brave  and  skilful 
officer,  commanded  for  Elizabeth  in  Connaught.  Essex 
ordered  him  to  march  into  Ulster  and  seize  certain 
strategic  points  that  would  open  the  way  for  the  main 
army  when  it  should  finally  appear  in  the  North.  Clif- 

152  The  People's   History  of  Ireland 

ford  obeyed  his  orders  with  veteran  promptitude.  He 
was  soon  at  Boyle,  in  the  present  county  of  Roscommon, 
where  he  went  into  camp  near  the  beautiful  abbey,  whose 
ruins  are  still  the  admiration  of  antiquarians.  Thence, 
he  marched  northward  through  the  passes  of  the  Corslibh, 
or  Curlew,  Mountains,  bent  upon  penetrating  into  Ulster. 
But,  in  a  heavily  timbered  ravine,  he  was  fallen  upon 
by  the  fierce  clansmen  of  Red  Hugh  O'Donnell,  com- 
manded by  their  fiery  chief  in  person.  When  the  En- 
glish heard  the  terrible  war-cry  of  "O'Donnell  Aboo!" 
("O'Donnell  to  Victory")  echoing  along  the  pass,  they 
knew  their  hour  had  come.  However,  they  met  their 
fate  like  brave  men,  worthy  of  their  gallant  commander, 
and  fought  desperately,  although  in  vain.  They  were 
soon  totally  broken  and  fell  in  heaps  under  the  stalwart 
blows  of  the  Clan-O'Donnell.  General  Clifford  and  his 
second  in  command,  Sir  Henry  Ratcliffe,  were  killed, 
and  their  infantry,  unable  to  stem  the  tide  of  battle,  fled 
in  disorder,  carrying  with  them  the  cavalry,  under  Gen- 
eral Jephson,  a  cool  commander  who  displayed  all  the 
qualities  of  a  good  soldier  although  completely  over- 
matched. Had  he  not  gallantly  covered  the  retreat, 
hardly  a  man  of  the  English  infantry  would  have  reached 
Boyle  in  safety.  But  the  valor  of  Jephson  did  not  ex- 
tend to  all  of  his  men,  some  of  whom  abandoned  the  field 
ratker  precipitately.  The  English  historian,  Moryson, 
excuses  them  on  the  ground  that  "their  ammunition  was 
all  spent."  Sligo,  the  key  of  North  Connaught,  fell  to 
O'Donnell,  as  one  result  of  this  sharp  engagement. 

The  defeat  and  death  of  Clifford  would  seem  to  have 
utterly  demoralized  Essex.  He  again  hesitated  to  ad- 
vance against  O'Neill,  and,  instead  of  doing  so,  weakly 

The  People's  History  of  Ireland  153 

sought  a  parley  with  his  able  enemy.  O'Neill  agreed  to 
the  proposal,  and  they  met  near  Dundalk,  on  the  banks 
of  a  river  and  in  presence  of  their  chief  officers.  The 
Irish  general,  with  chivalrous  courtesy,  spurred  his 
charger  half-way  across  the  stream,  but  Essex  remained 
on  the  opposite  bank.  This,  however,  did  not  prevent 
the  two  leaders  from  holding  a  protracted  conversation, 
in  the  course  of  which  the  wily  O'Neill  completely  out- 
witted the  English  peer.  They  called  five  officers  on  both 
sides  into  the  conference,  and  O'Neill  repeated  the  terms 
he  offered  after  the  victory  of  Clontibret,  in  1595.  The 
Englishman  said  he  did  not  think  them  extravagant,  but 
his  sincerity  was  never  tested.  Soon  afterward,  angered 
by  an  epistolary  outburst  from  the  old  queen,  he  threw 
up  his  command,  and  returned  to  the  London  court,  where 
Elizabeth  swore  at  him,  ordered  him  under  arrest,  had 
him  tried  for  treason,  and,  finally,  beheaded — the  only 
cruel  act  of  her  stormy  life  she  ever  repenied  of.  The  axe 
that  severed  the  head  of  Essex  from  his  body  left  a  scar 
in  -Elizabeth's  withered  heart  that  never  healed. 


King  Philip  Sends  Envoys  to  O'Neill — The  Earl  of  Mountjoy 
Lord  Deputy 

PHILIP  II  of  Spain  died  in  September,  1598,  and  was 
succeeded  by  his  son  Philip  III,  who,  it  would  seem, 
took  more  interest  in  the  Irish  struggle  against  Elizabeth's 
temporal  and  spiritual  power  than  did  his  father.  Philip, 
in  all  likelihood,  cared  very  little  about  Ireland's  national 
aspirations,  but,  like  all  of  his  race,  he  was  a  zealous  Cath- 
olic, and  recognized  the  self-evident  fact  that  the  Irish 

154  The  People's  History  of  Ireland 

were,  then,  fighting  not  alone  their  own  battle  but  also 
that  of  the  Church,  with  heroic  vigor.  O'Neill  began 
negotiations  with  the  young  monarch  immediately  after 
his  accession,  and  Philip  responded  by  sending  two  en- 
voys to  the  Irish  general — Don  Martin  de  la  Cerda  and 
the  Most  Rev.  Matthias  de  Oriedo,  who  had  been  ap- 
pointed by  the  Pope  Archibishop  of  Dublin — a  purely 
titular  .office,  seeing  that  the  English  were  in  full  posses- 
sion of  that  capital.  The  bishop  presented  O'Neill  with 
"a  Phoenix  plume,"  blessed  by  his  Holiness,  and  also  with 
22,000  pieces  of  gold — a  generous  contribution  in  that 
age,  when  money  was  much  more  valuable  in  proportion 
than  it  is  now.  (O'Sullivan,  Moryson,  and  Mitchel.) 

O'Neill,  having  sufficiently  awed  the  English  generals 
for  a  period,  made  a  sort  of  "royal  progress"  through 
Munster  and  Leinster,  visiting  holy  places,  settling  feuds, 
and  inspecting  military  forces.  He  met  with,  practically, 
no  opposition,  but,  near  Cork,  had  the  misfortune  to  lose 
his  gallant  cavalry  commander,  Hugh  McGuire,  chief  of 
Fermanagh.  The  latter  was  leading  a  body  of  horse  on 
a  reconnoitring  mission,  when  suddenly  there  appeared  a 
force  of  English  cavalry,  bent  on  a  similar  errand,  under 
Sir  Warham  St.  Leger  and  Sir  Henry  Power,  Queen's 
Commissioners,  acting  in  place  of  Sir  Thomas  Norreys. 
St.  Leger  rode  up  to  McGuire  and  discharged  a  horse 
pistol  at  close  range.  The  heroic  Irish  chief  reeled  in 
his  saddle  from  a  mortal  wound,  but,  before  falling,  struck 
St.  Leger  a  crushing  blow  on  the  head  with  his  truncheon, 
and  killed  him  on  the  spot.  McGuire,  having  avenged 
himself  on  his  enemy,  died  on  the  instant.  These  were 
the  only  two  who  fell.  The  English  retreated  to  Cork 
and  kept  within  its  walls  until  O'Neill  had  left  the  neigh- 

The  People's  History  of  Ireland  155 

borhood.  The  Ulstej  prince  turned  back  through  Or- 
mond  and  Westmeath  and  arrived  in  his  own  country, 
"without  meeting1  an  enemy,  although  there  was  then  in 
Ireland  a  royal  army  amounting,  after  all  the  havoc  made 
in  it  during  the  past  year,  to  14,400  foot  and  1,230  horse" 
— this,  too,  exclusive  of  irregular  forces.  (Moryson.) 
This  force  was  well  provided  with  artillery  and  all  mili- 
tary stores.  (Mitchel.) 

But  O'Neill's  days  of  almost  unclouded  triumph  were 
drawing  to  a  close.  He  was,  at  last,  about  to  meet  an 
English  commander  who,  if  not  as  able  as  himself,  was 
infinitely  more  cunning  and  unscrupulous.  This  was 
Charles  Blount,  Earl  of  Mount  joy,  a  trained  soldier,  a 
veteran  diplomat,  a  fierce  Protestant  theologian,  and  a 
ripe  scholar.  His  motto,  on  assuming  the  duties  of  Lord 
Deputy  in  Ireland,  would  seem  to  have  been  "Divide  and 
Conquer."  Mountjoy  saw,  at  once,  that  steel  alone  could 
not  now  subdue  Ireland,  and  he  was  determined  to  resort 
to  other  methods,  more  potent  but  less  manly.  About  the 
same  time,  there  also  came  to  Ireland  two  other  famous 
English  generals,  Sir  George  Carew  and  Sir  Henry 
Dowcra.  The  new  deputy  brought  with  him  large  rein- 
forcements, so  that  the  English  army  in  Ireland  was  more 
powerful  than  it  had  ever  been  before;  and  Mountjoy' s 
orders  were,  in  effect,  that  Ulster,  in  particular,  should 
be  honeycombed  with  royal  garrisons,  especially  along 
its  coast-line.  Although  Mountjoy  himself  was  checked, 
at  the  outset,  by  O'Neill's  army,  Sir  Henry  Dowcra,  with 
a  powerful  force,  transported  by  sea  from  Carrickfergus, 
occupied  and  fortified  the  hill  of  Derry,  on  the  Foyle— 
the  ground  on  which  now  stands  the  storied  city  of  Lon- 
donderry. Other  border  garrisons  were  strengthened  by 

156  The  People's  History  of  Ireland 

the  Lord  Deputy,  and  everything  was  made  ready  for  a 
vigorous  prosecution  of  the  war.  The  penal  laws  against 
the  Irish  Catholics  were  softened,  so  as>  if  possible,  to 
detach  the  Anglo-Irish  Catholics  from  the  Celtic  Catholic 
Irish,  and  also  to  impress  the  weak-kneed  among  the  lat- 
ter with  "the  friendly  intentions  of  her  Majesty's  gov- 
ernment"— very  much  like  the  court  language  in  use  to- 
day. The  bait  took,  as  might  have  been  expected — for 
every  good  cause  has  its  Iscariots — and  we  soon  hear  of 
jealous  kinsmen  of  the  patriot  chiefs  "coming  over  to" 
the  queen's  "interest"  and  doing  their  utmost — the  heart- 
less scoundrels — to  divide  and  distract  the  strength  of 
their  country,  engaged  in  a  deadly  struggle  for  her  rights 
and  liberty.  These  despicable  wretches  are  foul  blotches 
on  the  pages  of  Ireland's  history.  But  for  them,  she 
could  have  finally  shaken  off  the  English  yoke,  which 
would  have  saved  Ireland  centuries  of  martyrdom  and 
England  centuries  of  shame.  And  so  we  find  Sir  Arthur 
O'Neill  becoming  "the  queen's  O'Neill" — his  branch  of 
the  family  had  long  been  in  the  English  interest ;  Connor 
Roe  McGuire  becoming  "the  queen's  McGuire,"  and  so 
on  ad  nauseam.  These  creatures  had  no  love  for  Eng- 
land or  Elizabeth,  but  simply  hoped  to  further  their  own 
selfish  ends  by  disloyalty  to  their  chiefs  and  treason  to 
their  country.  We  confess  that  this  is  a  chapter  of  Irish 
history  from  which  we  would  gladly  turn  in  pure  disgust 
did  not  our  duty,  as  a  writer  of  history,  compel  us  to 
dwell  upon  it  yet  a  while  longer.  Dermot  O'Connor,  who 
held  a  command  under  O'Neill's  Desmond  in  Munster, 
yielded  to  the  seductions  of  Carew  and  turned  upon  his 
leader,  in  the  interest  of  his  brother-in-law,  son  of  the 
"great  earl,"  who  was  held  as  a  hostage  Jn  London 

The  People's  History  of  Ireland  157 

Tower  by  Elizabeth,  and  was  now  used  as  a  firebrand 
to  stir  up  feud  and  faction  among  the  Munster  Irish. 
Mount  joy  had  not  been  many  months  in  Ireland,  when, 
to  use  the  words  of  the  historian  Mitchel,  "a  network  of 
English  intrigue  and  perfidy  covered  the  land,  until  the 
leaders  of  the  (Irish)  confederacy  in  Munster  knew 
not  whom  to  trust,  or  where  they  were  safe  from  treason 
and  assassination."  Dermot  O'Connor  was  willing  to 
surrender  Desmond,  whom  he  had  kidnapped,  to  Mount- 
joy,  for  a  thousand  pounds,  but,  before  he  could  receive 
his  blood-money,  the  "Suggawn  (hay- rope)  Earl,"  as 
he  was  called  in  derision  by  the  English  faction,  was 
rescued  by  his  kinsman,  Pierce  Lacy.  But  the  White 
Knight — frightful  misnomer — another  relative  of  the  earl 
• — was  more  fortunate  than  O'Connor.  He  managed  to 
receive  the  thousand  pounds,  delivered  Desmond  to  Carew, 
and  earned  enduring  infamy.  The  "Suggawn  Earl"  was 
sent  to  London  and  died  a  miserable  prisoner  in  the 

Thus,  the  policy  of  the  Lord  Deputy  was  doing  its 
deadly  work  in  Munster  and  also  in  Leinster,  where  the 
Irish  were  of  mixed  race,  and  where  racial  animosity 
could  be  more  easily  worked  upon  than  in  Ulster  and 
Connaught,  where  most  of  the  ancient  clans  still  re- 
mained unbroken  and  uncontaminated  by  foreign  influ- 
ences. Yet  Ulster  and  Connaught  had  their  Benedict 
Arnolds,  too,  as  we  have  shown  in  the  cases  of  O'Neill 
and  McGuire,  and  will  show  in  other  cases  which  yet  re- 
main to  be  mentioned.  But  in  these  provinces  the  war 
was  national  as  well  as  religious,  while  in  Munster  it 
was  almost  entirely  religious.  Most  of  the  Catholic  An- 
glo-Irish would  have  fought  with  the  English  rather  than 

158  The  People's  History  of  Ireland 

the  Celtic  Irish,  if  their  religion  had  been  tolerated  from 
the  first.  Among  the  Celtic  Irish  chiefs  who  went  over 
to  the  English  in  Munster,  were  O'  Sullivan  More  and 
McCarthy  More  (the  Great).  The  latter  had  the  cow- 
ardly excuse  that  his  strong-minded  wife  had  coerced  him 
into  treason,  and  refused  to  live  with  him  until  he  came 
to  terms  with  the  enemy.  Was  there  ever  anything  more 
disgraceful  in  the  history  of  manhood  and  womanhood? 
They  were,  indeed,  a  couple  entirely  worthy  of  each  other. 
The  Lord  Deputy,  in  the  meantime,  had  ravaged  the  "re- 
bellious" portions  of  Leinster,  burning  houses  and  crops, 
and  doing  other  evil  things  common  to  the  savage  war- 
fare of  that  period.  His  greatest  piece  of  luck,  however, 
was  the  killing  of  the  brave  O'More  of  Leix  in  a  skirmish. 


Ireland's  Fortunes  Take  a  Bad  Turn—  Defeat  of  O'Neill     and 
O'Donnell  at  Kinsale  . 

English  force  in  Ireland  was  now  (1600-1601) 
J-  overwhelming,  and  as  the  Irish  had  no  fleet  what- 
ever, the  English  were  enabled  to  plant  garrisons,  almost 
wherever  they  wished  to,  around  the  Ulster  coast,  and 
sometimes  posts  were  also  established  in  the  interior  of 
the  country.  Thus  Derry,  Dun-na-long,  Lifford,  and  nu- 
merous other  places  held  strong  garrisons,  and  these  sal- 
lied forth  at  will  —  the  small  Irish  army  being  actively 
engaged  elsewhere  —  and  inflicted  heavy  damage  on  the 
harmless  people  of  the  surrounding  districts.  The  proc- 
ess of  crop-burning  was  in  full  blast  again,  and  such  Irish 
people  as  escaped  the  sword  and  the  halter  had  the  hor- 

The  People's   History  of  Ireland  159 

rible  vision  of  perishing  by  famine  ever  before  their  eyes. 
O'Neill  and  O'Donnell  were  aware  of  all  this,  and  did 
the  best  they  could,  under  such  discouraging  circum- 
stances. They  were  almost  at  the  end  of  their  resources, 
and  awaited  anxiously  for  the  aid,  in  men  and  money, 
solemnly  promised  them  by  the  envoy  of  Philip  of  Spain. 
To  add  to  their  ever-growing  embarrassment,  Niall  Garbh 
("the  Rough")  O'Donnell,  cousin  of  Red  Hugh,  and  the 
fiercest  warrior  of  Clan-Conal,  revolted,  because  of  some 
fancied  slight,  and  also,  no  doubt,  inflamed  by  unworthy 
ambition,  against  the  chief,  and  went  over  to  the  enemy. 
Unfortunately,  some  of  the  clansmen,  who  did  not  look 
beyond  personal  attachment,  followed  his  dishonored  for- 
tunes, but  this  was  about  the  only  serious  case  of  clan 
defection.  The  great  body  of  the  Irish  galloglasses  and 
kerns — heavy  and  light  infantry — remained  true  to 
their  country  and  their  God,  and  died  fighting  for  both 
to  the  last. 

Niall  Garbh,  after  allying  himself  with  the  English, 
occupied  the  beautiful  Franciscan  monastery  of  Donegal, 
in  which  the  Annals  of  the  Four  Masters,  Ireland's  chron- 
ological history,  were  compiled.  Red  Hugh,  fiercely 
indignant,  marched  against  the  sacrilegious  traitor  and 
laid  siege  to  him  in  the  holy  place.  After  three  months' 
investment,  it  was  taken  by  storm,  and  utterly  destroyed 
by  fire,  except  for  a  few  walls  which  still  remain.  The 
traitor's  brother,  Conn  O'Donnell,  and  several  of  the 
misguided  clansmen  were  killed  in  the  conflict,  but,  un- 
fortunately, Niall  Garbh  himself  escaped,  to  still  further 
disgrace  the  heroic  name  of  O'Donnell  and  injure  the 
hapless  country  that  gave  birth  to  such  a  monster. 

Mountjoy,   after  frequent  indecisive  skirmishes  with 

Ireland— 8  YoL  L 

160  The  People's  History  of  Ireland 

O'Neill,  amused  himself  by  offering  a  reward  of  £2,000 
for  that  chieftain's  head,  and  smaller  amounts  for  those 
of  his  most  important  lieutenants.  But  no  man  was 
found  among  the  faithful  clansmen  of  Tyrone  to  murder 
his  chief  for  the  base  bribe  of  the  Lord  Deputy.  Yet 
Mountjoy  continued  to  gain  ground  in  Ulster,  little  by 
little,  and  he  built  more  forts,  commanding  important 
passes,  and  garrisoned  them  in  great  force.  He  also 
caused  most  of  the  woods  to  be  cut  away,  and  thus  laid 
the  O'Neill  territory  wide  open  for  a  successful  invasion. 
O'Neill  was  an  admirable  officer,  and  still,  assisted  by 
Hugh  O'Donnell,  presented  a  gallant  front  to  Mountjoy, 
but  he  could  do  little  that  was  effective  against  an  enemy 
who  had  five  times  the  number  of  soldiers  that  he  had, 
and  could  thus  man  important  posts,  filled  with  all  the 
munitions  of  war,  without  sensibly  weakening  his  force 
in  the  field.  Destitute  of  foundries  and  powder  fac- 
tories, he  could  make  no  progress  in  the  matter  of  artil- 
lery, and  such  cannon  as  he  had  were  destitute  of  proper 
ammunition.  All  this  the  Spaniards  could  have  supplied, 
but  their  characteristic  dilatoriness,  in  the  end,  ruined 
everything.  Another  circumstance  also  militated  against 
the  success  of  the  brave  O'Neill — the  English  and  their 
allies  were  solidly  unified  for  the  destruction  of  the  Irish, 
while  the  latter,  as  we  have  seen,  were  fatally  divided  by 
corruption,  ambition,  jealousy — fostered  by  their  enemies 
— and  endless  English  intrigue.  No  wonder  that  his 
broad  brow  grew  gloomy  and  that  his  sword  no  longer 
struck  the  blows  it  dealt  so  fiercely  at  Clontibret  and  the 
Yellow  Ford. 

At  last,  however,   out  of  the  dark  clouds  that  sur- 
rounded his  fortunes,  there  flashed  one  sun-ray  of  hope 

The  People's  History  of  Ireland  161 

and  joy.  News  suddenly  reached  the  north,  as  well  as 
the  Lord  Deputy,  that  a  Spanish  fleet  had  landed  in  Kin- 
sale  Harbor,  on  the  coast  of  Cork.  It  carried  a  small 
force — less  than  6,000  men,  mostly  of  poor  quality — un- 
der the  command  of  the  arrogant  and  incompetent  Don 
Juan  de  Agnila.  He  occupied  Kinsale  and  the  surround- 
ing forts  at  once,  but  was  disappointed  when  the  Munster 
Irish — already  all  but  crushed  by  Mountjoy — did  not 
flock  at  once,  and  in  great  numbers,  to  his  standard.  Of 
all  the  Munster  chiefs  there  responded  only  O' Sullivan 
Beare,  O'Connor  Kerry,  and  the  brave  O'Driscoll.  They 
alone  redeemed,  in  as  far  as  they  could,  the  apathy  of 
South  Munster,  and  were  justified  in  resenting  the  Span- 
ish taunt,  bitterly  uttered  by  Don  Juan  himself,  that 
"Christ  had  never  died  for  such  people."  The  Spaniard 
did  not,  of  course,  take  into  consideration,  because  he  did 
not  know,  the  exhaustion  of  South  Munster  after  the  Ger- 
aldine  war  and  the  wars  which  succeeded  it.  Constant 
defeat  is  a  poor  tonic  on  which  to  build  up  a  boldly  aggres- 
sive patriotism. 

The  news  of  the  landing  at  Kinsale  reached  Red  Hugh 
O'Donnell  while  he  was  in  the  act  of  besieging  his  own 
castle  of  Donegal,  surreptitiously  seized  "by  Niall  Garbh, 
"the  Queen's  O'Donnell,"  while  he  was  absent  "at  the 
front,"  with  O'Neill.  He  instantly  raised  the  siege,  and, 
summoning  all  of  his  forces,  marched  southward  with- 
out an  hour's  delay,  as  became  his  ardent  and  gallant 
nature.  Neither  did  O'Neill  hesitate  to  abandon  "the 
line  of  the  Blackwater,"  which  guarded  his  own  castle 
of  Dungannon,  to  its  fate,  and  at  once  marched  his 
forces  toward  Kinsale.  The  Clan-Conal  marched 
at  "the  route  step,"  through  Breffni  and  Hy-Many, 

162  The  People's  History  of  Ireland 

crossing  the  Shannon  near  where  it  narrows  at  the 
east  end  of  Lough  Dearg.  On  through  the  Ormonds, 
where  "the  heath-brown  Slieve  Bloom"  mountains  rise 
in  their  beauty,  they  pressed,  burning,  at  every  footstep, 
to  reach  Kinsale,  join  the  Spaniards,  and  "have  it  out" 
with  Mountjoy  and  the  English.  O'Donnell,  marching 
in  lighter  order  and  by  a  different  route,  outstripped  his 
older  confederate,  but  narrowly  escaped  being  inter- 
cepted in  Tipperary  by  a  superior  English  force,  under 
General  Carew,  detached  by  the  Lord  Deputy  for  that 
purpose.  As  Red  Hugh  had  no  intention  of  giving  bat- 
tle until  reinforced  by  O'Neill,  or  he  had  joined  the  Span- 
iards, he  made  a  clever  flank  movement,  by  forced  march, 
over  the  Slieve  Felim  Hills,  which  interposed  between 
him  and  Limerick.  But  the  rains  had  been  heavy  of  late, 
the  mountain  passes  were  boggy,  and  neither  horses  nor 
carriages  (wagons)  could  pass.  Fortunately,  it  was  the 
beginning  of  winter,  and,  one  night,  there  came  a  sharp 
frost,  which  sufficiently  hardened  the  ground,  and  the 
Irish  army,  taking  advantage  of  the  kindness  of  Provi- 
dence, marched  ahead  throughout  the  dark  hours,  and, 
by  morning,  had  left  Carew  and  his  army  hopelessly  in 
rear.  O'Donnell  made  thirty-two  miles  ^Irish),  about 
forty-two  English  miles,  in  that  movement  ar  d  halted 
at  Croom,  having  accomplished  the  greatest  march,  with 
baggage,  recorded  in  those  hard  campaigns.  (Pacata 
Hibernia,  cited  by  Mitchel.) 

His  coming  among  them,  as  well  as  the  news  of  the 
arrival  of  the  Spaniards,  put  fresh  life  into  the  Irish  of 
West  Munster,  and,  indeed,  Red  Hugh  stood  on  scant 
ceremony  with  such  degenerate  Irish  as  refused  to  fight 
for  their  country,  so  that  wherever  he  marched,  fresh 

The  People's  History  of  Ireland  16? 

patriots,  eager  to  "save  their  bacon,"  in  many  cases 
sprang-  up  like  crops  of  mushrooms.  At  Castlehaven  he 
formed  a  junction  with  700  newly  arrived  Spanish  troops 
and,  together,  they  marched  toward  Kinsale,  which 
Mount  joy  and  Carew  were  preparing  to  invest.  O'Neill 
and  his  brave  lieutenant,  Richard  Tyrrell,  did  not  pursue 
the  route  taken  by  O'Donnell,  but  had  to  fight  their  way 
through  Leinster  and  North  Munster  with  considerable 
loss.  At  Bandon,  in  South  Munster,  they  fell  in  with 
O'Donnell  and  the  Spaniards,  and  all  marched  to  form  an 
immediate  junction  with  De  Aguila.  Mitchel,  quoting 
from  O' Sullivan's  narrative,  gives  the  total  strength  of 
the  force  under  O'Neill  and  O'Donnell  at  6,000  foot  and 
500  horse.  The  Irish  leader  was  opposed  to  risking  a 
general  engagement  with  so  small  a  command,  although 
O'Donnell,  when  he  beheld  Mount  joy's  troops  beleaguer- 
ing the  town,  wanted  to  attack,  which,  judging  by  after 
events,  might  have  been  the  better  plan.  O'Neill  argued, 
however,  that  the  inclement  season  would  soon  destroy 
a  good  part  of  the  English  soldiers  and  counseled  delay. 
O'Donnell  yielded  reluctantly,  and  then  the  Irish,  very 
badly  provided,  intrenched  themselves  and  began  "besieg- 
ing the  besiegers."  Prudence,  on  this  occasion,  ruined 
the  cause  of  Ireland — so  often  ruined  by  rashness,  before 
and  since;  for,  three  days  after  O'Neill's  policy  had  been 
acceded  to,  that  is  on  Christmas  eve,  1601,  accident 
brought  on  an  engagement,  in  the  dark,  which  neither 
party  seems  to  have  anticipated.  The  tragedy  is  best  re- 
lated by  Mitchel  in  his  life  of  O'Neill,  thus:  "Before 
dawn,  on  the  morning  of  the  24th  (December),  Sir 
Richard  Graham,  who  commanded  the  night  guard  of 
horse,  sent  word  to  the  deputy  that  the  scouts  had  dis- 

164  The  People's  History  of  Ireland 

lovered  die  matches  (matchlock  muskets  were  used  at 
this  period)  flashing  in  great  numbers  in  the  darkness, 
and  that  O'Neill  must  be  approaching  the  camp  in  force. 
Instantly  the  troops  were  called  to  arms;  messengers 
were  despatched  to  the  Earl  of  Thomond's  quarter,  with 
orders  to  draw  out  his  men.  The  deputy  (Mountjoy) 
now  advanced  to  meet  the  Irish,  whom  he  supposed  to 
be  stealing  on  his  camp,  and  seems  to  have  effectually 
surprised  them,  while  endeavoring  to  prevent  a  surprise 
upon  himself.  The  infantry  of  O'Neill's  army  retired 
slowly  about  a  mile  further  from  the  town,  and  made  a 
stand  on  the  bank  of  a  ford,  where  their  position  was 
strengthened  by  a  bog  in  flank.  Wingfield,  the  marshal, 
thought  he  saw  some  confusion  in  their  ranks,  and  en- 
treated the  deputy  that  he  might  be  allowed  to  charge. 
The  Earl  of  Clanricarde  joined  the  marshal  and  the  bat- 
tle became  general.  O'Neill's  cavalry  repeatedly  drove 
back  both  Wingfield  and  Clanricarde,  until  Sir  Henry 
Danvers,  with  Captains  Taaffe  and  Fleming,  came  up  to 
their  assistance,  when,  at  length,  the  Irish  infantry  fell 
into  confusion  and  fled.  Another  body  of  them,  under 
Tyrrell,  was  still  unbroken,  and  long  maintained  their 
ground  on  a  hill,  but  at  length,  seeing  their  comrades 
routed,  they  also  gave  way  and  retreated  in  good  order 
after  their  main  body.  The  northern  cavalry  covered  the 
retreat,  and  O'Neill  and  O'Donnell,  by  amazing  personal 
exertions,  succeeded  in  preserving  order  and  preventing 
it  from  becoming  a  total  rout." 

Such  was  the  unfortunate  battle  of  Kinsale — the  most 
disastrous,  perhaps,  in  Irish  annals.  It  was  not  even  well 
fought,  because  the  Irish  troops,  surprised  in  their  sleep, 
owing  to  lack  of  vigilance  on  the  part  of  the  sentinels,  had 

The  People's  History  of  Ireland  165 

lost  most  of  their  effective  arms,  their  baggage,  and  col- 
ors at  the  outset.  Their  camp,  also,  came  into  immediate 
possession  of  the  enemy.  Thus,  they  were  discouraged — 
the  Irish  character  being  mercurial,  like  the  French — if 
not  badly  demoralized,  and  they  did  not,  in  this  ill-fated 
action,  fight  with  a  resolution  worthy  of  the  fame  they  had 
rightfully  earned  as  soldiers  of  the  first  class,  nor  did  they 
faithfully  respond,  as  heretofore,  to  the  military  genius 
of  their  justly  renowned  leaders.  They  were  mostly  the 
troops  of  Ulster,  far  from  home,  and  lacking  the  inspira- 
tion that  comes  to  all  men  when  conscious  that  they  are 
fighting  to  defend  their  own  hearths  against  the  spoiler. 
Ulster,  in  that  day,  was  almost  alien  to  the  southern  prov- 
ince, although  the  soldiers  of  both  were  fighting  in  a  com- 
mon cause.  Kinsale  was,  certainly,  not  a  battle  to  which 
Ireland  can  look  back  with  feelings  of  pride,  but  she  may 
be  thankful  that  there  are  few  such  gloomy  failures  re- 
corded in  her  military  annals.  Yet  the  bitter  fact  remains 
that  Kinsale  clouded  forever  the  glory  achieved  by  the 
troops  of  O'Neill  and  O'Donnell  on  so  many  fields  of 
victory.  The  Spaniards,  who  had  joined  O'Donnell  on 
the  march,  refused  to  fly  and  were  almost  all  destroyed. 
Their  commander,  Del  Campo,  two  officers,  and  forty  sol- 
diers were  all  that  survived  out  of  seven  hundred  men, 
and  they  were  made  prisoners  of  war.  (Mitchel.)  In 
a  note,  this  author,  quoting  Pacata  Hibernia,  says :  "The 
most  merciless  of  all  Mountjoy's  army  that  day  was  the 
Anglo-Irish  and  Catholic  Earl  of  Clanricarde.  He  slew 
twenty  of  the  Irish  with  his  own  hand,  and  cried  aloud 
to  'spare  no  rebels.'  Carew  (the  English  general  and 
writer)  says  that  'no  man  did  bloody  his  sword  more  than 
his  lordship  that  day.' '  This  episode  shows  how  well 

1 66  The  People's  History  of  Ireland 

Mountjoy's  policy  of  "Divide  and  Conquer"  and  tem- 
porary toleration  of  the  Catholics  worked  for  the  En- 
glish cause.  Had  the  penal  laws  not  been  mitigated  this 
Anglo-Irish  and  Catholic  Earl  of  Clanricarde  would  have 
fought  on  the  side  of  Ireland. 

De  Aguila,  seeing  that  the  Irish  army  was  defeated, 
and  that  another  effort  on  the  part  of  O'Neill  was  ren- 
dered impossible  by  the  loss  of  his  munitions  and  the 
lateness  of  the  season,  proposed  to  capitulate.  The  Earl 
of  Mount  joy  offered  him  honorable  terms,  and  De  Aguila 
agreed  to  surrender  to  the  English  all  the  Irish  castles  on 
the  coast  to  which  Spanish  garrisons  had  been  admitted, 
"and  shortly  after,"  says  Mitchel,  "set  sail  for  Spain,  car- 
rying with  him  all  his  artillery,  treasure,  and  military 
stores."  Some  of  the  Irish  chiefs,  notably  the  O'Sulli- 
van  Beare,  refused  to  ratify  that  part  of  De  Aguila's 
capitulation  which  agreed  to  surrender  their  castles,  oc- 
cupied by  Spanish  troops,  to  the  English.  The  fortresses 
had  been  thrown  open  to  the  Spaniards  in  good  faith,  and 
General  de  Aguila  had  no  moral  right  to  give  them  up. 
The  most  he  could  agree  to  do  was  to  withdraw  his  men 
from  the  Irish  castles  and  take  them  back  with  him  to 
Spain.  And  this  was  the  view  taken  by  the  Irish  chiefs, 
with  bloody,  but  glorious,  result,  as  we  shall  see. 

Sad  Death  of  O'Donnell  in  Spain — Heroic  Defence  of  Dunboy 

O'NEILL,  when  he  perceived  the  hopelessness  of  the 
Irish   situation   in   Munster,   conducted   what   re- 
mained  of  his   defeated   army  back   to   the   north   and 
cantoned  it  along  the  Blackwater  for  the  winter  months, 

The  People's  History  of  Ireland  167 

where  he  felt  quite  sure  the  English,  worn  out  by  their 
exertions  at  the  siege  and  battle  of  Kinsale,  would  not 
attack  him.  Red  Hugh  O'Donnell,  exasperated  beyond 
endurance  at  the  disregard  of  his  bold  advice  to  attack 
the  beleaguering  English,  in  conjunction  with  the  Span- 
iards, on  the  first  arrival  of  the  Irish  army  before 
Kinsale,  gave  up  the  command  of  his  clan  to  his  brother, 
Roderick,  and,  with  a  few  followers,  sailed  for  Spain, 
in  search  of  further  aid.  He  resolved  to  ask  King  Philip 
for  an  army,  not  a  detachment.  The  chief  landed  at 
Coruna,  and  was  received  with  high  honors  by  the  Span- 
ish authorities.  He  finally  reached  the  Spanish  Court 
and  placed  the  whole  Irish  situation  clearly  before  Philip, 
who  promised  a  powerful  force  and  actually  gave  orders 
to  prepare  at  once  for  a  new  expedition  to  Ireland.  The 
sad  sequel  is  well  told  in  the  eloquent  words  of  Mitchel : 
"But  that  armament  never  sailed,  and  poor  O'Donnell 
never  saw  Ireland  more;  for  news  reached  Spain,  a  few 
months  after,  that  Dunboy  Castle,  the  last  stronghold 
in  Munster  that  held  out  for  King  Philip,  was  taken, 
and  Beare-haven,  the  last  harbor  in  the  South  that  was 
open  to  his  ships,  effectually  guarded  by  the  English; 
and  the  Spanish  preparations  were  countermanded;  and 
Red  Hugh  was  once  more  on  his  journey  to  court  to  re- 
new his  almost  hopeless  suit,  and  had  arrived  at  Saman- 
cas,  two  leagues  from  Valladolid,  when  he  suddenly  fell 
sick.  His  gallant  heart  was  broken  and  he  died  there 
on  the  loth  of  September,  1602.  He  was  buried  by  order 
of  the  king  with  royal  honors,  as  befitted  a  prince  of  the 
Kinel-Conal ;  and  the  stately  city  of  Valladolid  holds  the 
bones  of  as  noble  a  chief  and  as  stout  a  warrior  as  ever 
bore  the  wand  of  chieftaincy  or  led  a  clan  to  battle." 

1 68  The  People's  History  of  Ireland 

While  we  do  not  believe  in  "painting  the  devil  blacker 
than  he  is,"  we  think  it  proper  to  state  here  that  more 
recent  researches  would  seem  to  have  fixed  the  crime  of 
assassination  on  the  Earl  of  Mount  joy.  In  an  account, 
quoted  in  several  lectures  by  Frank  Hugh  O'Donnell, 
ex-member  of  the  British  Parliament,  it  is  definitely 
stated  that  Red  Hugh  O'Donnell  was  poisoned  at  the 
inn  in  Samancas,  where  he  died,  by  a  hired  murderer, 
named  Blake,  who  acted  for  the  English  Lord  Deputy. 
Such,  if  the  statement  is  true,  were  the  political  ethics 
of  the  Elizabethan  era. 

Donal  O' Sullivan  Beare,  the  bravest  of  all  the  Mun- 
ster  leaders,  wrested  his  castle  of  Dun-buidhe  (Dunboy), 
in  English,  "Yellow  Fort,"  from  the  Spaniards  after  De 
Aguila  had  agreed  to  surrender  it  to  the  English.  He 
justified  his  conduct  to  the  King  of  Spain  in  a  pathetic 
letter  in  which  he  said:  "Among  other  places  that  were 
neither  yielded  nor  taken  to  the  end  that  they  might  be 
delivered  to  the  English,  Don  Juan  tied  himself  up  to  de- 
liver my  castle  and  haven,  the  only  key  to  mine  inheri- 
tance, whereupon  the  living  of  many  thousand  persons 
doth  rest,  that  live  some  twenty  leagues  upon  the  sea- 
coast,  into  the  hands  of  my  cruel,  cursed,  misbelieving 

The  defence  of  this  castle  by  the  Irish  garrison  of  one 
hundred  and  forty-three  men,  commanded  by  O'Sulli- 
van's  intrepid  lieutenant,  McGeoghegan,  was  one  of  the 
finest  feats  of  arms  recorded  in  history.  Although  only 
a  square  tower,  with  outworks,  it  held  out  against  Gen- 
eral Carew,  the  Lord  President,  for  fifteen  days.  It  was 
bombarded  by  the  fleet  from  the  haven,  and  battered  by 
artillery  from  the  land  side.  Indeed,  Carew  had  an 

The  People's  History  of  Ireland  169 

army  of  4,000  veteran  soldiers  opposed  to  McGeoghegan's 
143  heroes.  A  breach  was  finally  effected  in  the  castle, 
but  the  storming  parties  were  repeatedly  repulsed.  The 
great  hall  was  finally  carried,  and  the  little  garrison,  un- 
der the  undaunted  McGeoghegan,  retreated  to  the  vaults 
beneath  it,  where  they  sustained  the  unequal  conflict  for 
four-and-twenty  hours,  and,  by  the  exertion  of  unex- 
ampled prowess,  at  last  cleared  the  hall  of  the  English. 
The  latter  replied  with  an  overwhelming  cannonade,  and 
the  walls  of  the  castle  crumbled  about  the  ears  of  its 
heroic  defenders.  The  latter  made  a  desperate  sortie 
with  only  forty  men  and  all  perished.  The  survivors  in 
the  castle  continued  the  defence,  but,  in  the  end,  their 
noble  commander,  McGeoghegan,  was  mortally  wounded 
and  they  laid  down  their  arms.  While  their  wounded 
chief  lay  gasping  in  the  agonies  of  approaching  death, 
on  the  floor  of  the  vault,  he  saw  the  English  enter  the 
place.  The  sight  seemed  to  renew  his  life  and  energy. 
He  sprang  to  his  feet,  seized  a  torch,  and  made  a  rush 
for  an  open  barrel  of  powder,  intending  to  blow  assail- 
ants and  assailed  into  the  sky.  But  an  English  soldier 
was  too  quick  for  the  dying  hero.  He  seized  him  in  his 
arms,  and  a  comrade  wrested  the  torch  from  the  failing 
hand  and  extinguished  it.  Then  they  ran  their  swords 
through  McGeoghegan's  body,  and  his  glorious  deeds  and 
great  sufferings  were  at  an  end.  It  should  have  been 
stated  that  ten  of  the  garrison,  who  were  of  the  party 
that  made  the  sortie,  on  the  failure  of  their  bold  effort, 
attempted  to  reach  the  mainland  by  swimming  across 
the  haven.  .  This  movement  was  anticipated  by  the  En- 
glish commander.  Soldiers  were  stationed  in  boats  to 
intercept  the  swimmers,  and  all  were  stabbed  or  shot,  as 

170  The  People's  History  of  Ireland 

if  they  had  been  beasts  of  prey.  The  survivors  of  the 
band  of  Irish  Spartans,  who  made  Dunboy  forever  mem- 
orable in  the  annals  of  martial  glory,  were  instantly 
hanged  by  order  of  Carew,  so  that  not  one  of  the  heroic 
143  was  left.  Ruthless  as  he  was,  the  Lord  President 
himself,  in  an  official  letter,  bore  this  testimony  to  their 
valor :  "Not  one  man  escaped ;  all  were  slain,  executed,  or 
buried  in  the  ruins,  and  so  obstinate  a  defence  hath  not 
been  seen  within  this  kingdom."  The  defence  of  Dunboy 
Castle  deserves  to  rank  in  history  with  Thermopylae  and 
the  Alamo  of  Texas,  and  the  butchery  of  its  surviv- 
ing defenders,  in  cold  blood,  was  a  disgrace  to  English 
manhood.  How  differently  the  gallant  O'Neill  treated 
the  English  prisoners  taken  at  Armagh,  Portmore,  and 
other  places  in  Ulster  during  the  period  of  his  amazing 
victories.  It  is  cruelties  of  this  character  that  made  the 
English  name  abhorred  in  Ireland,  not  the  prowess,  or 
even  the  bloodthirstiness,  of  the  English  soldiery  in  the 
heat  of  battle.  The  massacre  at  Dunboy  is  an  indelible 
stain  on  the  memory  of  Lord  President  Carew. 


Wane  of  Irish  Resistance — O'Neill  Surrenders  to  Mountjoy  at 

WITH  the  fall  of  Dunboy,  Ireland's  heroic  day  was 
almost  at  an  end  for  that  generation.  O'Sulli- 
van  and  some  other  Munster  chiefs  still  held  out,  but  their 
efforts  were  only  desultory.  O'Neill,  accompanied  by 
Richard  Tyrrell,  the  faithful  Anglo-Irish  leader,  rallied 
the  remnants  of  his  clan  and  attempted  to  hold  again  the 
line  of  the  Blackwater.  But  the  English  were  now  too 
many  to  be  resisted  by  a  handful  of  brave  men.  They 

The  People's   History  of  Ireland  171 

closed  upon  him  from  every  side,  and  advanced  their 
posts  through  the  country,  so  as  to  effectually  cut  him 
off  from  communication  with  Tyrconnel,  whose  chief 
on  hearing  of  the  death  of  his  noble  brother,  Red  Hugh, 
in  Spain,  made  terms  with  the  Lord  Deputy.  So,  also, 
did  many  other  Ulster  chiefs,  who  conceived  their  cause 
to  be  hopeless.  O'Neill,  still  hoping  against  hope,  and 
thinking  that  a  Spanish  army  might  yet  come  to  his  aid, 
burned  his  castle  of  Dungannon  to  the  ground,  and  re- 
tired to  the  wooded  and  mountainous  portions  of  his  an- 
cient principality,  where  he  held  out  doggedly.  But  the 
Lord  Deputy  resorted  to  his  old  policy  of  destroying  the 
growing  crops,  and,  very  soon,  Tyrone,  throughout  its 
fairest  and  most  fertile  regions,  was  a  blackened  waste. 
Still  the  Red  Hand  continued  to  float  defiantly  through- 
out the  black  winter  of  1602-3;  but,  at  length,  despair 
began  to  shadow  the  once  bright  hopes  of  the  brave 
O'Neill.  His  daring  ally,  Donal  O'Sullivan  Beare,  hav- 
ing lost  all  he  possessed  in  Munster,  set  out  at  this  in- 
clement season  on  a  forced  march  from  Glengariff,  in 
Cork,  to  Breffni,  in  Leitrim,  fighting  his  enemies  all  the 
way,  crossing  the  Shannon  in  boats  extemporized  from 
willows  and  horsehides;  routing  an  English  force,  under 
Colonel  Malby,  at  the  "pass  of  Aughrim,"  in  Galway, 
destined  to  be  more  terribly  memorable  in  another  war 
for  liberty;  and,  finally,  reached  O'Ruarc's  castle,  where 
he  was  hospitably  welcomed,  with  only  a  small  moiety 
of  those  who  followed  him  from  their  home's, 

" — Marching 

Over   Murkerry's   moors    and   Ormond's   plain, 
His  currochs  the  waves  of  the  Shannon  o'erarching 
And  pathway  mile-marked  with  the  slain." 

172  The  People's  History  of  Ireland 

Even  the  iron  heart  of  Hugh  O'Neill  could  not  main- 
tain its  strength  against  conditions  such  as  those  thus 
described  by  Moryson,  the  Englishman,  who  can  not  be 
suspected  of  intensifying  the  horrid  picture  at  the  ex- 
pense of  his  own  country's  reputation:  "No  spectacle," 
he  says,  "was  more  frequent  in  the  ditches  of  towns,  and 
especially  of  wasted  countries,  than  to  see  multitudes  of 
poor  people  dead,  with  their  mouths  all  colored  green, 
by  eating  nettles,  docks,  and  all  things  they  could  rend 
up  above  ground."  There  were  other  spectacles  still 
more  terrible,  as  related  by  the  English  generals  and 
chroniclers  themselves,  but  we  will  spare  the  details. 
They  are  too  horrible  for  the  average  civilized  being  of 
this  day  to  contemplate,  although  the  age  is  by  no  means 
lacking  in  examples  of  human  savagery  which  go  to 
prove  that  the  wild  beast  in  the  nature  of  man  has  not 
yet  been  entirely  bred  out. 

Baffled  by  gold,  not  by  steel,  by  the  torch  rather  than 
the  sword,  deprived  of  all  his  resources,  deserted  by  his 
allies,  and  growing  old  and  worn  in  ceaseless  warfare, 
it  can  hardly  be  wondered  at  that  O'Neill  sent  to  the 
Lord  Deputy,  at  the  end  of  February,  1603,  propositions 
of  surrender.  Mount  joy  was  glad  to  receive  them — for 
the  vision  of  a  possible  Spanish  expedition,  in  great  force, 
still  disquieted  him — and  arranged  to  meet  the  discom- 
fited Irish  hero  at  Mellifont  Abbey,  in  Louth,  where  died, 
centuries  before,  old,  repentant,  and  despised,  that  faith- 
less wife  of  O'Ruarc,  Prince  of  Breffni,  whose  sin  first 
caused  the  Normans  to  set  foot  in  Ireland.  So  anxious 
was  Mount  joy  to  conclude  a  peace,  that  nearly  all  of 
O'Neill's  stipulations  were  concurred  in,  even  to  the 
free  exercise  of  the  Catholic  religion  in  the  subjugated 

The  People's   History  of  Ireland  173 

country.  He  and  his  allies  were  allowed  to  retain,  under 
English  "letters  patent,"  their  original  tribe-lands,  with 
a  few  exceptions  in  favor  of  the  traitors  who  had  fought 
with  the  English  against  their  own  kindred.  It  was  in- 
sisted, however,  by  the  Deputy,  that  all  Irish  titles,  in- 
cluding that  of  "The  O'Neill,"  should  be  dropped,  thence- 
forth and  forever,  and  the  English  titles  of  "nobility" 
substituted.  All  the  Irish  territory  was  converted  into 
"shire  ground."  The  ancient  Brehon  Law  was  abol- 
ished, and,  for  evermore,  the  Irish  clans  were  to  be  gov- 
erned by  English  methods.  Queen  Elizabeth  had  died 
during  the  progress  of  the  negotiations,  and  a  secret 
knowledge  of  this  fact  no  doubt  influenced  Mount  joy  in 
hurrying  the  treaty  to  its  conclusion,  and  granting  such, 
comparatively,  favorable  conditions  to  Hugh  O'Neill 
and  the  other  "rebellious"  Irish  chiefs.  Therefore,  it 
was  to  the  representative  of  King  James  I  that  Tyrone, 
at  last,  yielded  his  sword — not  to  the  general  of  Eliza- 
beth. It  is  said  that  in  the  bitter  last  moments  of  that 
sovereign,  her  almost  constant  inquiry  was :  "What  news 
from  Ireland  and  that  rascally  O'Neill?"  The  latter's 
most  elaborate  historian  estimates  that  the  long  war  "cost 
England  many  millions  in  treasure,  and  the  blood  of  tens 
of  thousands  of  her  veteran  soldiers,  and,  from  the  face 
of  Ireland,  it  swept  nearly  one-half  of  the  entire  popula- 
tion." (Mitchel.)  And,  he  continues:  "From  that  day 
(March  30,  1603,  when  O'Neill  surrendered  at  Melli- 
font),  the  distinction  of  'Pale'  and  'Irish  country*  was  at 
an  end;  and  the  authority  of  the  kings  of  England  and 
their  (Anglo)  Irish  parliaments  became,  for  the  first 
time,  paramount  over  the  whole  island.  The  pride  of  an- 
cient Erin — the  haughty  struggle  of  Irish  nationhood 

174  The  People's  History  of  Ireland 

against  foreign  institutions  and  the  detested  spirit  of 
English  imperialism,  for  that  time,  sunk  in  blood  and 
horror,  but  the  Irish  nation  is  an  undying  essence,  and 
that  noble  struggle  paused  for  a  season,  only  to  recom- 
mence in  other  forms  and  on  wider  ground — to  be  re- 
newed, and  again  renewed,  until — Ah!  quousque,  Dom- 
ine,  quousque?" 


Treachery  of  James  I  to  the  Irish  Chiefs— "The  Flight  of  the  Earls" 

AT  the  outset  of  his  reign,  James  I,  of  England,  and 
VI  of  Scotland,  collateral  descendant  of  that  Ed- 
ward Bruce  who  had  been  crowned  King  of  the  Irish 
in  the  beginning  of  the  fourteenth  century,  promised  to 
rule  Ireland  in  a  loving  and  paternal  spirit.  He  had 
received  at  his  London  court,  with  great  urbanity,  Hugh 
O'Neill  and  Roderick  O'Donnell,  and  had  confirmed 
them  in  their  English  titles  of  Earl  of  Tyrone  and  Earl 
of  Tyrconnel,  respectively.  They  had  accompanied 
Mountjoy  to  England,  to  make  their  "submissions"  in 
due  form  before  the  king,  and,  while  en  route  through 
that  country,  were  grossly  insulted  at  many  points  by 
the  common  people,  who  could  not  forget  their  relatives 
lying  dead  in  heaps  in  Irish  soil,  because  of  the  prowess 
of  the  chieftains  who  were  now  the  guests  of  England. 
It  is  most  remarkable  that  the  English  people  have  al- 
ways honored  and  hospitably  entertained  the  distin- 
guished "rebels"  of  all  countries  but  Ireland.  Refu- 
gees from  Poland,  from  Austria,  from  Hungary,  from 
France,  from  Italy — many  of  them  charged  with  using 
assassin  methods — have  been  warmly  welcomed  in  Lon- 
don, and  even  protected  by  the  courts  of  law,  as  in  the 

The  People's  History  of  Ireland  175 

case  of  the  Orsini-infernal-machine  conspirators  against 
Napoleon  III,  in  1859;  but  no  Irish  "rebel1"  has  ever 
been  honored,  or  sheltered,  or  defended  by  the  English 
people,  or  the  English  courts  of  law ;  although  individual 
Englishmen,  like  Lord  Byron,  Percy  Shelley,  and  a  few 
others  of  their  calibre,  have  written  and  spoken  in  asser- 
tion of  Ireland's  right  to  a  separate  existence.  Of  course, 
the  reason  is  that  all  the  other  "rebels"  fought  in  "good 
causes,"  and,  according  to  English  political  ethics,  no 
cause  can  possibly  be  just  in  which  the  right  of  England 
to  govern  any  people  whatever  against  their  will  is  con- 
tested. America  learned  that  bitter  lesson  nearly  two 
centuries  after  O'Neill  and  O'Donnell  were  hooted  and 
stoned  by  the  English  populace  for  having  dared  to  de- 
fend the  rights  and  the  patrimony  of  their  people. 

The  Catholic  religion  continued  to  be  tolerated  by 
James  until  1605,  when,  suddenly,  a  penal  statute  of 
the  time  of  Elizabeth  was  unearthed  and  put  into  opera- 
tion with  full  force.  Treaty  obligations  of  England 
with  the  Irish  chiefs  were  also  systematically  violated. 
The  lands  of  Ulster  were  broad  and  fair,  and  the  great 
body  of  military  adventurers  who  had  come  into  Ireland 
from  England  during  the  long  wars  of  the  preceding 
reign,  were  greedy  for  spoil.  These  and  the  Irish  traitors 
—Art  O'Neill,  Niall  Garbh  O'Donnell,  the  false  Mc- 
Guire,  and  the  rest — pestered  the  government  and  made 
never-ending  charges  of  plots  and  "treasons"  against 
"the  earls,"  as  the  Irish  leaders  of  the  late  war  now  came 
to  be  called.  The  plotters  were  ably  assisted  by  Robert 
Cecil,  Earl  of  Salisbury,  ancestor  of  the  late  Marquis 
of  Salisbury,  who  was  also  his  namesake.  Another  able 
English  conspirator  against  the  Irish  chiefs  was  Sir 

176  The  People's  History  of  Ireland 

Arthur  Chichester,  who  became  one  of  the  chief  benefi- 
ciaries of  the  subsequent  "confiscations,"  and  whose 
descendants  still  hold,  as  "titled  nobility,"  a  very  com- 
fortable slice  of  ancient  Ulster.  Some  "Reformed"  bish- 
ops also  took  great  interest  in  getting  the  earls  into  hot 
water  with  the  government.  Finally  an  alleged  plot  on 
the  part  of  O'Neill  and  O'Donnell  to  overthrow  the 
King  of  England's  government  in  Ulster — an  absurdity 
on  its  face,  considering  their  fallen  and  helpless  condi- 
tion— was  made  the  pretext  for  summoning  them  to  ap- 
pear before  the  English  courts  established  in  Ireland,  in 
whose  justice  they  had  no  confidence,  remembering  the 
ghastly  fate  of  MacMahon  Roe.  A  hired  perjurer, 
named  O'Cahan — the  unworthy  scion  of  a  noble  house 
— was  to  be  chief  "witness"  against  O'Neill,  and  no 
secret  was  made  of  the  fact  that  others  would  be  forth- 
coming, hired  by  Chichester,  to  finish  the  work  begun 
by  the  principal  informer.  Meanwhile  the  free  exercise 
of  the  Catholic  religion — so  solemnly  guaranteed  by 
Mount  joy — was  strictly  prohibited,  under  the  penal  en- 
actment of  Elizabeth,  known  as  the  "Act  of  Uniform- 
ity," already  referred  to;  and  again  began  those  horrid 
religious  persecutions,  for  polities'  and  plunder's  sake, 
which  had  no  termination  in  Ireland,  except  for  one 
brief  period,  during  nearly  two  centuries.  Such  Catho- 
lics as  desired  to  practice  their  faith  had  to  betake  them- 
selves to  the  mountain  recesses,  or  the  caves  of  the  sea- 
coast,  where,  before  rude  altars,  Mass  was  celebrated  by 
priests  on  whose  heads  a  penal  price  was  set.  Sheriffs 
and  judges,  attended  by  large  bands  of  soldiers,  made 
circuit  of  the  new  Ulster  "counties"  and  succeeded  in 
completely  terrifying  the  unfortunate  Catholic  inhabi- 

The  People's  History  of  Ireland  177 

tants.  Education,  as  far  as  Catholics  were  concerned, 
was  prohibited,  and  then  began  that  exodus  of  Irish 
ecclesiastical  students  to  the  Continent  of  Europe,  which 
continued  down  to  the  reign  of  William  IV,  not- 
withstanding the  partial  mitigation  of  the  penal  laws, 
in  the  reign  of  his  father,  and  the  passage  of  the 
Catholic  Emancipation  Bill  during  his  brother's  reign, 
A.D.  1829. 

The  persecuted  earls  clearly  saw  there  was  no  hope  of 
peace  for  them  in  Ireland,  and  that  their  presence  only 
wrought  further  ill  to  their  faithful  clansmen,  now  re- 
duced, for  the  first  time,  to  the  condition  of  "subjects"  of 
the  King  of  England.  Lord  Howth,  a  powerful  Catholic 
noble  of  the  Pale,  was  suspected  of  having  given  infor- 
mation to  the  Lord  Deputy  of  a  meeting  held  at  May- 
nooth  the  previous  Christmas  at  which  the  earls  and  sev- 
eral Anglo-Catholic  noblemen  were  present.  It  was 
claimed  that  the  enforcement  of  the  Act  of  Uniformity 
was  there  discussed,  and  that  another  effort  to  overthrow 
the  English  power  would  be  made  by  the  parties  to  the 
meeting.  This  "plot,"  if  there  were  any  at  all,  was  com- 
municated to  the  Clerk  of  the  Privy  Council  by  an 
anonymous  letter  dropped  at  the  Castle  of  Dublin  in 
March,  1607.  "O'Neill,"  says  McGee,  "was  with  Chi- 
chester,  at  Slane,  in  September  when  he  received  a  let- 
ter from  the  McGuire — not  the  traitor  of  that  title — who 
had  been  abroad,  conveying  some  startling  information 
upon  which  Tyrone  seems  to  have  acted  at  once.  He  took 
leave  of  the  Lord  Deputy,  as  if  to  prepare  for  a  journey 
to  London,  whither  he  had  been  summoned  on  some  false 
pretext;  and,  after  spending  a  few  days  with  his  old 
friend,  Sir  Garrett  Moore,  at  Mellifont,  repaired  to  his 

178  The  People's  History  of  Ireland 

seat  of  Dungannon,  where  he,  at  once,  assembled  all  of 
his  immediate  family  and  all  proceeded  to  the  shores  of 
Lough  S willy,  at  Rathmullen,  where  they  were  joined  by 
Roderick  O'Donnell  and  all  of  his  household.  They  em- 
barked immediately  on  the  French  ship  which  had  con- 
veyed McGuire  to  Ireland,  and  set  sail  for  France,  where, 
on  landing,  they  were  warmly  welcomed  and  royally  en- 
tertained by  the  chivalric  King  Henry  IV,  who,  as  became 
a  stout  soldier  and  able  captain,  greatly  admired  the 
prowess  displayed  in  the  Ulster  wars  by  Hugh  O'Neill. 
There  sailed  to  France  with  the  latter  his  last  countess, 
daughter  of  McGenniss  of  Iveagh;  his  three  sons,  Hugh, 
John,  and  Brian;  his  nephew,  Art  O'Neill,  son  of  Cormac, 
and  many  of  lesser  note.  With  O'Donnell  sailed  his 
brother  Cathbar;  his  fair  sister,  Nuala,  wife  of  Niall 
Garbh,  who  had,  in  righteous  indignation,  forsaken  the 
traitor  when  he  drew  the  sword  against  Ireland  and 
her  noble  brother,  Red  Hugh;  the  lady  Rose  O'Doherty, 
wife  of  Cathbar,  and,  after  his  death,  of  Owen  O'Neill; 
McGuire,  Owen  Mac  Ward,  the  chief  bard  of  Tyrconnel, 
and  several  others.  It  proved  to  be  a  fatal  voyage,  for 
it  exiled  forever  the  best  and  bravest  of  the  Irish  chiefs. 
Well  might  the  Four  Masters  in  their  Annals  of  the  suc- 
ceeding generation  say:  "Woe  to  the  heart  that  medi- 
tated, woe  to  the  mind  that  conceived,  woe  to  the  council 
that  decided  on  the  project  of  voyage,  without  knowing 
whether  they  should  to  the  end  of  their  lives  be  able  to 
return  to  their  ancient  principalities  and  patrimonies." 
And,  adds  the  graphic  Mitchel,  "with  gloomy  looks  and 
sad  forebodings,  the  clansmen  of  Tyrconnel  gazed  upon 
that  fatal  ship,  'built  in  the  eclipse  and  rigged  with  curses 
dark,'  as  she  dropped  down  Lough  Swilly,  and  was  hidden 

The  People's  History  of  Ireland  179 

behind  the  cliffs  of  Fanad  Head.  They  never  saw  their 
chieftains  more." 

Everything  was  now  settled  in  Ulster,  for  the  English 
interest,  except  for  the  brief  "rebellion"  of  Sir  Cahir 
O'Doherty,  the  young  chief  of  Inishowen,  who  fell  out 
with  Sir  George  Powlett  of  Derry,  and  flew  at  once  to 
arms.  He  made  a  brave  struggle  of  some  months'  dura- 
tion, but,  as  no  aid  reached  him  from  any  outside  quarter, 
he  was  speedily  penned  up  in  his  own  small  territory,  and, 
fighting  to  the  last,  died  the  death  of  a  soldier — the  no- 
blest death  he  could  have  died,  surrounded  by  the  armies 
of  Marshal  Wingfield  and  Sir  Oliver  Lambert,  on  the 
rock  of  Doon,  near  Kilmacrenan,  in  August,  1608.  Thus 
went  out  the  last  spark  of  Ulster  valor  for  a  generation. 

King  James,  having  used  Niall  Garbh  O'Donnell  for 
all  he  was  worth  to  the  English  cause,  grew  tired  of  his 
importunities  and  had  him  conveyed  to  England,  under 
guard,  together  with  his  two  sons.  All  three  were  im- 
prisoned in  the  Tower  of  London  from  which  the  traitor, 
at  least,  never  emerged  again.  He  met  a  fate  he  richly 
merited.  Cormac  O'Neill,  the  brave  captor  of  Armagh, 
and  the  legitimate  O'Cahan,  both  of  whom  had  incurred 
the  hatred  of  Chichester,  also  perished  in  the  same  gloomy 

And  now  all  that  remained  to  be  done  was  to  parcel 
out  the  lands  of  the  conquered  Ultonians  and  others  of 
"the  Meer  Irish''  between  the  captains  of  the  new  con- 
quest. Chichester  was  given  the  whole  of  O'Doherty's 
country,  the  peninsula  of  Inishowen,  and  to  this  was 
added  O'Neill's  former  borough  of  Dungannon,  with 
1,300  acres  of  valuable  land  in  the  neighborhood  of 
the  town.  Wingfield  was  created  Lord  Powerscourt  and 

i8o  The  People's  History  of  Ireland 

obtained  the  beautiful  district  of  Fercullen,  near  Dublin 
— one  of  the  most  charming  domains  in  all  Europe. 
Lambert  became  Earl  of  Cavan  and  had  several  rich  es- 
tates, including  that  of  Carrig,  bestowed  upon  him  in  ad- 
dition. All  the  counties  of  Ulster  were  declared  forfeited 
to  the  Crown  of  England.  The  primate  and  other  Prot- 
estant prelates  of  Ulster  claimed,  and  received,  43,000 
acres.  Trinity  College,  Dublin,  received  30,000  acres,  in 
Tyrone,  Derry,  and  Armagh,  together  with  six  advow- 
sons,  or  Church  beneficies,  in  each  county.  The  various 
guilds,  or  trades,  of  the  city  of  London,  England,  ob- 
tained the  gross  amount  of  209,800  acres,  including  the 
city  of  Derry,  to  which  the  name  of  "London"  was  then 
prefixed.  Grants  to  individuals  were  divided  into  three 
classes  of  2,000,  1,500,  and  1,000  acres  each.  Catholic 
laborers  were  required  to  take  the  oath  of  supremacy- 
acknowledging  King  James  as  spiritual  head  of  the 
Church — which  they,  notwithstanding  all  their  misfor- 
tunes, nobly  refused  to  do.  In  the  end,  seeing  that  the 
fields  would  remain  uncultivated  for  the  most  part,  the 
English  and  Scotch  "undertakers,"  or  settlers,  for  pru- 
dence' sake,  rather  than  from  liberal  motives,  practically 
made  this  tyrannical  requirement  a  dead  letter.  But  the 
Catholic  tillers  of  the  soil  were  driven  from  the  fertile 
plains  and  forced  to  cultivate  miserable  patches  of  land 
in  the  bogs  or  on  the  mountains.  When  these  became  in 
any  degree  valuable,  an  exorbitant  "rent"  was  charged, 
and  the  poor  Catholics,  utterly  unable  to  pay  it,  were 
again  compelled  to  move  to  some  even  more  unpromising 
location,  where  the  same  procedure  again  and  again  pro- 
duced the  same  wretched  result. 

It  was  thus  that  the  ancient  Irish  clans,  and  families, 

The  People's  History  of  Ireland  181 

were  actually  robbed,  in  spite  of  solemn  treaties  and  royal 
pledges,  of  their  rightful  inheritance,  and  that  strangers 
and  "soulless  corporations"  became  lords  of  their  soil. 
It  was  the  beginning,  in  Ulster  at  least,  of  that  system 
of  "felonious  landlordism"  which  is  the  curse  of  all  Ire- 
land, in  spite  of  recent  remedial  measures,  even  in  this 
day.  So,  too,  began  that  English  garrison  in  Ireland — 
pitting  race  against  race  and  creed  against  creed — which 
has  divided,  distracted,  and  demoralized  the  Irish  nation 
ever  since.  The  "Plantation  of  Ulster"  was  the  most 
fatal  measure  ever  carried  into  effect  by  English  policy 
in  Ireland.  Some  of  the  Irish  princes  did  not  long  sur- 
vive their  exile.  From  France  they  had  proceeded  to 
Rome  and  were  very  kindly  received  by  the  Pontiff,  who 
placed  residences  commensurate  with  their  rank  and  fame 
at  their  disposal.  Roderick  O'Donnell  died  in  the  Eter- 
nal City  in  July,  1608.  McGuire  died  at  Genoa,  while 
en  route  to  Spain  in  August,  and,  in  September,  Cathbar 
O'Donnell  also  passed  away,  and  was  laid  in  the  same 
grave  with  his  gallant  brother,  on  St.  Peter's  Hill.  (Mc- 
Gee.)  O'Neill's  fate  was  sadder  still.  The  historian 
just  quoted  says  of  him:  "He  survived  his  comrades 
as  he  did  his  fortunes,  and,  like  another  Belisarius,  blind 
and  old,  and  a  pensioner  on  the  bounty  of  strangers,  he 
lived  on  eight  weary  years  in  Rome."  Death  came  to  his 
relief,  according  to  a  historian  of  his  own  period,  in  1616, 
when  he  must  have  been  over  seventy  years  of  age.  He 
sleeps  his  last  sleep  amid  the  consecrated  dust  of  ages, 
beneath  the  flagstones  of  the  convent  of  St.  Isidore;  and 
there,  in  the  words  of  the  Irish  orator  and  American  gen- 
eral, Meagher,  "the  fiery  hand  that  rent  the  ensign  of  St. 
George  on  the  plains  of  Ulster  has  mouldered  into  dust." 



Ireland— 9 

VoL  I. 

Confiscations  and  Penal  Laws  —  The  Iron  Rule  of  Lord  Strafford 

first  Anglo-Irish  Parliament  held  within  a  pe- 
•l  riod  of  twenty-seven  years  was  summoned  to  meet 
in  Dublin  on  May  18,  1613,  and,  notwithstanding  the 
Act  of  Uniformity,  it  would  appear  that  quite  a  large 
number  of  Catholics,  styled  in  the  language  of  the  times 
"recusants,"  because  of  their  opposition  to  the  spiritual 
supremacy  of  the  king,  were  elected  to  serve  in  that  body. 
They  would  have  had  a  majority  but  for  the  creation  of 
some  forty  "boroughs,"  each  entitled  to  a  member,  un- 
der the  patronage  of  some  Protestant  peer.  This  was 
the  beginning  of  that  "rotten  borough"  system  which 
finally  led  to  the  abolition  of  the  sectarian  Irish  Parlia- 
ment of  after  times.  Scenes  of  great  disorder  occurred 
in  this  Parliament  of  1613,  chiefly  occasioned  by  the  in- 
tolerant, and  even  violent,  proceedings  of  the  anti-Catholic 
party,  unreasonable  bigots,  having  an  eye  to  the  main 
chance  in  the  matter  of  confiscated  property,  to  whom  the 
presence  of  any  "Papist"  in  that  body  was  as  gall  and 
wormwood.  This  bitter  prejudice  led  finally  to  the  utter 
exclusion  of  all  Catholics  from  the  Anglo-Irish  Parlia- 
ment, and  even  the  few  Catholic  commoners  previously 
entitled  to  a  vote  were  deprived  of  that  privilege,  or 
rather  right,  until  the  last  decade  of  the  eighteenth  cen- 
tury. Still,  the  Catholic  minority  in  the  Parliament  of 
1613  succeeded  in  preventing  ultra-tyrannical  legisla- 
tion, and,  really,  made  the  first  stand  for  the  constitu- 


1 86  The  People's  History  of  Ireland 

tional  rights  of  Ireland,  from  the  colonial  standpoint. 
It  was  finally  adjourned  in  October,  1615,  and  no  other 
Parliament  was  called  to  meet  in  Ireland  until   1635, 
when  Charles  I  had  already  been  ten  years  on  the  throne. 
"Government,"   meanwhile,   had  been   carried   on  arbi- 
trarily, without  constitutional  restraint  of  any  kind,  as 
under  the  Tudor  sovereigns — only  with  far  less  ability. 
The  Tudors,  at  least — particularly  Henry  and  Elizabeth 
— were  intellectual  tyrants,  which  their  immediate  suc- 
cessors were  not.     Never  was  so  shameful  a  system  of 
public  spoliation  carried  out  as  in  the  reigns  of  James  I, 
and  his  equally  despotic,  and  still  more  unscrupulous,  son 
Charles  I.     The  viceroy  was  not  responsible  to  any  power 
whatever,   except  that  of  the   English   monarch.     Chi- 
chester  was  succeeded  by  Lord  Grandison,  and  under  his 
regime   the   infamous   "Commission   for  the   Discovery 
of  Defective  Titles"  was  organized,  of  which  the  sur- 
veyor-general, Sir  William  Parsons,  ancestor  of  the  Earls 
of   Rosse,    was    the   head.      This    Commission,    "aided 
by  a  horde  of  clerkly  spies,  employed  under  the  name  of 
Discoverers    (McGee),   ransacked  Old  Irish  tenures  in 
the  archives  of  Dublin  and  London  with  such  good  effect, 
that  in  a  very  short  time  66,000  acres  in  Wicklow  and 
385,000  acres  in  Leitrim,  Longford,  the  Meaths,   and 
Kings  and  Queens  Counties  were  'found  by  inquisition 
to  be  vested  in  the  crown.'     The  means  employed  by  the 
Commissioners  in  some  cases  to  elicit  such  evidence  as 
they  required  were  of  the  most  revolting  description.     In 
the  Wicklow  case,  courts-martial  were  held,  before  which 
unwilling  witnesses  were  tried  on  charge  of  treason,  and 
some  actually  put  to  death.     Archer,  one  of  the  number, 
had  his  flesh  burned  with  red-hot  iron,  and  was  placed 

The  People's  History  of  Ireland  187 

on  a  gridiron  over  a  charcoal  fire  till  he  offered  to  testify 
anything  that  was  necessary.  Yet  on  evidence  so  ob- 
tained, whole  counties  and  towns  were  declared  for- 
feited to  the  crown."  (Ibid.)  Is  it  any  wonder,  there- 
fore, that  a  people  so  scourged,  plundered,  and  degraded 
should  cherish  in  their  hearts  fierce  thoughts  of  reprisal 
when  opportunity  offered?  These  wholesale  land  rob- 
beries were  not  confined  to  the  Celtic  Irish  alone,  but 
were  practiced  on  all  Irishmen,  of  whatever  descent,  who 
professed  the  Catholic  faith.  Add  to  these  the  bitter 
memories  of  the  murder  and  persecution  of  many  bishops 
and  innumerable  priests  and  communicants  of  that  faith, 
and  the  only  wonder  is  that  the  Irish  Catholic  people  of 
the  seventeenth,  and  most  of  the  succeeding,  century,  re- 
tained any  of  the  milder  and  nobler  characteristics  of  the 
human  family.  They  were  stripped  of  their  property, 
education,  civil  rights,  and,  in  short,  of  all  that  makes 
life  worth  living,  including  freedom  of  conscience — that 
dearest  privilege  of  a  people  naturally  idealistic  and  de- 
votional. The  idea  of  religious  toleration  never  seems 
to  have  entered  into  the  minds  of  what  may  be  called 
the  "professional  Protestant"  ascendency,  except,  as  we 
have  seen,  for  purposes  of  diplomacy  which  tended  to 
weaken  and  divide  Irish  national  opposition  to  foreign 
rule.  In  addition  to  the  grievances  we  have  enumerated, 
the  office  of  Master  of  Wards  was  bestowed  upon  Sir 
William  Parsons,  and  thus  "the  minor  heirs  of  all  the 
Catholic  proprietors  were  placed,  both  as  to  person  and 
property,  at  the  absolute  disposal  of  one  of  the  most  in- 
tense anti-Catholic  bigots  that  ever  appeared  on  the 
scene  of  Irish  affairs."  (McGee.)  This  was  one  of  the 
pernicious  influences  that,  not  for  conscience'  sake,  but 

1 88  The  People's  History  of  Ireland 

for  sordid  gain,  changed  the  religion  of  so  many  of  the 
ancient  families  of  Ireland  from  the  old  to  the  new  form 
of  belief;  and  no  English  policy  was  more  bitterly  re- 
sented and  vengefully  remembered  by  the  Irish  Catholic 
masses.  And  because  of  this  dishonest  system  of  prosely- 
tizing, carried  on  by  one  process  or  another  from  the 
period  of  the  Reformation  to  the  reign  of  Victoria,  the 
Irish  Catholic  peasant  has  associated  "conversion"  of 
any  of  his  neighbors  to  the  Protestant  belief  with  per- 
sonal degradation.  The  Irish  Catholic  peasant  has  no 
feeling  but  that  of  utter  contempt  and  aversion  for  a 
"turn-coat"  Catholic;  but  he  is  most  liberal  in  his  feel- 
ings toward  all  Protestants  "to  the  manor  born,"  as  has 
been  frequently  and  emphatically  manifested  by  his  choice 
of  Protestant  leaders,  from  Grattan  to  Parnell.  What- 
ever of  religious  bigotry  may  linger  in  the  warm  heart 
of  the  Catholic  peasant  may  be  justly  charged  to  outrage- 
ous misgovernment,  not  to  his  natural  disposition,  which, 
in  the  main,  is  both  loving  and  charitable.  The  faults 
we  can  trace  in  the  Irish  character  to-day  are  partially 
those  of  human  nature,  which  averages  much  the  same 
in  all  civilized  peoples,  but  many  of  them,  and  the  grav- 
est, can  be  attributed,  without  undue  prejudice,  to  the 
odious  penal  laws  which  were  sufficient  to  distort  the 
characteristics  of  angels,  not  to  speak  of  mortal  men. 

Charles  I,  of  England,  was  a  thorough  Stuart  in 
despotic  character,  wavering  policy,  base  ingratitude,  and 
fatuous  obstinacy.  His  reign  was  to  furnish  to  Ireland 
one  of  the  most  consummate  tyrants  and 'highway  rob- 
bers that  ever  cursed  a  country  with  his  cruelty  and 
greed.  This  moral  monster  was  the  infamous  Thomas 
Wentworth,  Earl  of  Stratford,  whose  "tiger  jaws"  closed 

The  People's  History  of  Ireland  189 

on  the  unfortunate  country  with  the  grip  of  a  dragon. 
This  dishonorable  "noble"  counseled  King  Charles  to 
commit  an  act  of  moral  delinquency  which,  in  our  day, 
would  be  rightly,  if  coarsely,  called  "a  confidence  game." 
The  Irish  Catholics,  in  convention  assembled,  had  drawn 
up  a  sort  of  Bill  of  Rights,  which  they  urged  the  king 
to  confirm,  and  agreed  to  pay  into  the  royal  treasury 
the  sum  of  £100,000,  which  they  could  ill  spare,  to  show 
their  "loyalty,"  and  also,  no  doubt,  to  influence  Charles, 
who,  like  all  of  his  family,  dearly  loved  money,  to  grant 
"the  graces"  prayed  for.  Strafford  advised  the  base  king 
to  take  the  money,  but  to  manage  matters  so  that  the 
concessions  he  had  solemnly  promised  should  never  go 
into  effect!  And  the  ignominious  Stuart  actually  acted 
on  the  advice  of  this  ignoble  mentor.  And  so  the  poor 
Irish  Catholic  "gentry"  lost  both  their  money  and  their 
"concessions."  When  we  read  this  chapter  of  Irish 
history,  we  are  tempted  to  feel  less  sympathy  for  the 
fate  of  Charles  I,  who  was  afterward  sold  to  Cromwell 
and  the  English  Parliament  by  the  Scottish  mercenary 
army  of  General  Leslie,  with  which  the  king  had  taken 
shelter,  for  back  pay,  amounting  to  £200,000  (see  Sir 
Walter  Scott's  "Tales  of  a  Grandfather").  This  miserable 
monarch  so  far  degraded  himself,  further,  as  to  cause 
writs  for  the  election  of  a  Parliament  to  grant  the  Catholic 
claims  issued  in  Ireland,  but  privately  instructed  Lord 
Falkland  to  have  the  documents  informally  prepared,  so 
that  the  election  might  prove  invalid;  and,  meanwhile, 
his  Lords  Justices  went  on  confiscating  Catholic  prop- 
erty in  Ireland  and  persecuting  prelates,  priests,  and 
people  almost  as  savagely  as  in  the  worst  days  of  Mount- 
joy  and  Chichester.  Strafford  came  to  Ireland  as  Lord 

190  The   People's   History  of  Ireland 

Deputy  in  July,  1633,  and  entered  at  once  on  his  "thor- 
ough" policy,  as  he  called  it;  and,  to  prepare  himself 
for  the  task  he  had  set  himself  to  perform,  he  through 
the  "Lords  Justices"  extracted  a  "voluntary  contribution" 
of  £20,000  additional  out  of  the  terrorized  Catholic 
"nobility  and  gentry"  of  the  "sister"  island,  who,  no 
doubt,  wrung  it,  in  turn,  out  of  the  sweat  of  the  faces 
of  their  peasant  retainers.  But  this  was  a  mere  bagatelle 
to  what  followed.  He  compelled  Ireland  to  pay  sub- 
sidies to  the  amount  of  £200,000  in  1634,  and  imposed 
£100,000  more  in  the  succeeding  year.  He  carried  the 
war  of  wholesale  confiscation  into  Connaught,  and  com- 
pelled grand  juries,  specially  "packed"  for  the  work,  to 
give  the  King  of  England  title  to  the  three  great  counties 
of  Mayo,  Sligo,  and  Roscommon.  The  grand  jury  of 
Galway  County  refused  to  return  such  a  verdict.  They 
were  summoned  to  the  court  of  the  Castle  Chamber  in 
Dublin,  and  sentenced  to  pay  a  fine  of  £4,000  each  to 
the  crown.  The  sheriff  who  empaneled  them  was  fined 
£  1,000.  (McGee.)  The  very  lawyers  who  pleaded  for 
the  actual  proprietors  were  stripped  of  their  gowns ;  "the 
sheriff  died  in  prison  and  the  work  of  spoliation  pro- 
ceeded." (Ibid.}  Similar,  if  not  quite  so  general,  rob- 
beries went  on  in  Kildare,  Kilkenny,  Cork,  and  other 
counties.  It  must  be  said,  however,  that  Strafford  was, 
in  a  manner,  impartial,  and  robbed,  his  master  granting 
full  approval,  without  distinction  of  creed.  We  can  not 
help  feeling  thankful  that  the  London  companies  which 
swallowed,  in  the  reign  of  King  James,  the  lands  of 
Tyrone  and  Tyrconnel,  were  compelled  by  "Black 
Tom,"  as  the  earl  was  nicknamed,  to  pay  £70,000  "for 
the  use  of  the  king."  Out  of  all  this  plunder,  and  much 

The  People's  History  of  Ireland  191 

more  beside,  Strafford  was  enabled  to  maintain  in  Ire- 
land 10,000  infantry  and  1,000  excellently  equipped 
horse,  "for  the  service  of  his  royal  master."  When  this 
great  robber  visited  London  in  1639,  fresh  from  his 
crimes  in  Ireland,  the  king,  on  whom  so  much  ill-de- 
served sympathy  has  been  wasted,  assured  him,  in  per- 
son, that  his  actions  in  Ireland  had  his  (Charles')  "most 
cordial  approval"  (McGee),  and  even  urged  the  earl  to 
"proceed  fearlessly  in  the  same  course."  To  still  further 
mark  his  approbation  of  Stratford's  policy,  the  king  pro- 
moted him  to  the  rank  of  Viceroy  of  Ireland.  Strafford 
took  the  king  at  his  word  and  did  proceed  so  fearlessly 
in  Ireland  that  his  name  of  terror  has  been  overshadowed 
in  that  country  by  only  one  other — that  of  Oliver  Crom- 
well. Every  Parliament  called  to  meet  by  the  tyrant  in 
the  conquered  country — for  so  the  earl  regarded  Ireland 
— was  used  simply  as  an  instrument  wherewith  to  ex- 
tort still  more  tribute  from  the  impoverished  Irish  peo- 
.ple.  This  terrible  despot,  having  accomplished  his  deadly 
mission  in  Ireland,  returned  to  England  and  there,  as 
before,  became  chief  adviser  to  the  weak  and  wicked 
monarch.  He  counseled  the  latter  to  ignore,  as  far  as 
he  dared,  the  action  of  Parliament,  and  was  imprudent 
enough  to  remark  that  he  (Strafford)  had  an  army  in 
Ireland  to  support  the  royal  will.  He  was,  soon  after- 
ward, impeached  by  the  House  of  Commons,  led  by 
stern  John  Pym,  for  treasonable  acts  in  seeking  to  change 
the  constitutional  form  of  the  English  Government. 
This  method  of  procedure  was  abandoned,  however,  and 
Parliament  passed  a  bill  of  attainder,  to  which  the  "false, 
fleeting,  perjured"  Charles,  frightened  by  popular  clamor, 
which  accused  himself  of  being  implicated  in  a  plot  to 

192  The  People's  History  of  Ireland 

admit  soldiers  to  the  Tower  for  the  rescue  of  Strafford, 
gave  the  "royal  assent."  The  earl,  on  learning  this, 
placed  a  hand  upon  his  heart  and  exclaimed,  "Put  not 
your  trust  in  Princes !"  And  thus  the  master  he  had  but 
too  faithfully  served  consigned  Strafford  to  the  block. 
He  was  beheaded  on  Tower  Hill,  May  12,  1641.  When 
the  hour  of  his  similar  doom  approached,  nearly  eight 
years  thereafter,  Charles  said  that  the  only  act  of  his 
reign  he  repented  of  was  giving  his  assent  to  the  bill 
which  deprived  his  favorite  minister  of  life. 

Some  Irish  historians,  McGee  of  the  number,  claim 
that,  outside  of  his  land  robberies  and  tributary  exac- 
tions, the  Earl  of  Strafford  made  an  able  ruler  of  Ire- 
land, and  that  trade  and  commerce  flourished  under  his 
sway.  While  this  may  be,  to  a  certain  extent,  true, 
nothing  can  palliate  the  crimes  against  justice  and  lib- 
erty of  which  he  was  guilty.  He  was  only  a  degree  less 
contemptible  than  the  treacherous  master  who  finally  be- 
trayed and  abandoned  him. 


Irish  Military  Exiles — Rory  O'More  Organizes  a  Great  Insurrection 

SINCE  Sir  Cahir  O'Doherty  fell  on  the  rock  of  Doon, 
in  1608,  no  Irish  chief  or  clan  had  risen  against  the 
English  interest  throughout  the  length  and  breadth  of 
the  island.  The  masses  of  the  Irish  people  had,  appar- 
ently, sunk  into  a  condition  of  political  torpor,  but  the 
fires  of  former  generations  still  smouldered  amid  the 
ashes  of  vanquished  hopes,  and  needed  but  a  breath  of 
inspiration  to  fan  them  into  fierce,  rebellious  flame.  Most 
of  the  ancient  Celtic  and  many  of  the  Anglo-Norman, 

The  People's  History  of  Ireland  193 

families  of  Catholic  persuasion  had  military  represen- 
tatives in  nearly  all  the  camps  of  Europe.  One  Irish 
legion  served  in  the  army  of  Philip  III  of  Spain,  and  was 
commanded  successively  by  two  of  the  sons  of  Hugh 
O'Neill,  victor  of  the  Yellow  Ford — Henry  and  John.  In 
it  also  served  the  hero's  gallant  nephew,  Owen  Roe 
O'Neill,  who  rose  to  the  rank  of  lieutenant-colonel  and 
made  a  brilliant  defence  of  Arras  in  France,  besieged  by 
Marshal  de  Meilleroye,  in  1640.  Of  this  able  soldier  we 
shall  hear  more  in  the  future.  The  English  Government 
never  lost  sight  of  those  Irish  exiles,  and,  about  this  time, 
one  of  its  emissaries  on  the  Continent  reported  that  there 
were  in  the  Spanish  Netherlands  alone  "twenty  Irish 
officers  fit  to  be  colonels  and  a  hundred  fit  to  be  captains." 
The  same  agent  reported,  further,  that  the  Irish  military 
throughout  Europe  had  long  been  procuring  arms  for  an 
attempt  upon  Ireland,  and  had  6,000  stand  laid  up  in 
Antwerp  for  that  design,  and  that  these  had  been  bought 
out  of  the  deduction  of  their  "monthly  pay."  At  the  de- 
fence of  Louvain  against  the  French,  the  Irish  legion, 
1,000  strong,  commanded  by  Colonel  Preston,  of  a  dis- 
tinguished Anglo-Irish  family,  received  honorable  men- 
tion, and  again  at  the  capture  of  Breda.  These  are  only 
a  few  of  the  stirring  events  abroad  which  raised  the  mar- 
tial reputation  of  the  Irish  people  in  the  eyes  of  all  Eu- 
rope, and  the  fame  of  those  exploits,  reaching  Ireland 
by  means  of  adventurous  recruiting  officers  or  courageous 
priests,  who  defied  the  penal  laws  and  all  their  terrors, 
found  a  responsive  echo  in  many  a  humble  home,  where 
the  hope  of  one  day  throwing  off  the  foreign  yoke  was 
fondly  cherished.  The  exiled  priesthood,  many  of  whose 
members  became  prelates  of  high  rank  abroad,  aided  the 

194  The  People's   History  of  Ireland 

sentiment  of  the  military  at  the  Catholic  courts,  and  thus 
was  prepared  the  way  for  the  breaking  out  of  the  great 
insurrection  of  1641,  which,  but  for  the  foolish  over- 
confidence  of  an  Irish  chief  and  the  dastardly  treason 
of  an  obscure  drunkard,  might  have  been  gloriously 

The  moving  spirit  in  the  new  project  was  Roger,  or 
Rory  O'More,  of  the  ancient  family  of  Leix,  who  had 
been  educated  in  Spain  and  was,  virtually,  brought  up  at 
the  Spanish  court,  in  company  with  the  sons  of  Hugh 
O'Neill,  of  Tyrone.  O'More  would  seem  to  have  been 
a  born  organizer,  and  a  man  of  consummate  tact  and  dis- 
cretion. It  is  a  pity  that  but  little  is  known  of  his  early 
career,  and,  indeed,  the  precise  time  of  his  return  to  Ire- 
land remains  an  unsettled  question,  but  it  is  certain  that 
he  returned  quietly  there,  and  took  up  his  residence,  with- 
out parade,  on  his  estate  of  Ballynagh  in  Leinster.  He 
never  appeared  in  Dublin,  or  any  other  populous  centre, 
unless  on  some  public  occasion,  that  would  be  sure  to  at- 
tract the  attendance  of  the  principal  men  of  the  country. 
Thus,  during  the  Parliamentary  session  of  1640,  we  are 
told  by  McGee  and  other  Irish  annalists,  he  took  lodg- 
ings in  Dublin,  and  succeeded  in  drawing  into  his  plan 
for  a  general  insurrection,  Connor  McGuire,  MacMahon, 
Philip  O'Reilly,  Turlough  O'Neill,  and  other  prominent 
gentlemen  of  Ulster.  He  made  a  habit,  also,  of  visit- 
ing the  different  towns  in  which  courts  of  assize  were 
being  held,  and  there  becoming  acquainted  with  influ- 
ential men,  to  whom,  after  due  sounding,  he  outlined  his 
plans  for  the  final  overthrow  of  the  English  government 
in  Ireland,  and  the  restoration  to  the  Irish  people  of  the 
lands  and  rights  of  which  they  had  been  robbed.  On 

The  People's  History  of  Ireland  195 

one  of  these  tours,  we  are  told,  he  made  the  acquaintance 
of  Sir  Phelim  O'Neill,  of  Kinnaird,  in  Tyrone — head  of 
the  branch  of  that  great  family  still  tolerated  by  the  as- 
cendency —  Sir  Connor  McGennis  of  Down,  Colonel 
Hugh  MacMahon  of  Monaghan,  and  the  Right  Rev. 
Heber  MacMahon,  Administrator  of  Clogher,  by  con- 
nivance or  toleration,  for,  during  the  penal  laws,  there 
was  no  "legal"  recognition  of  a  Catholic  prelacy,  al- 
though, under  Charles  I,  especially  about  this  period, 
there  was  no  very  rigid  enforcement  of  the  Act  of  Uni- 
formity, probably  because  the  king  and  government  had 
enough  trouble  on  their  hands  in  vainly  trying  to  force 
Protestant  episcopacy  on  the  Scotch  covenanters. 

O'More  did  not  confine  his  operations  exclusively  to 
Ulster.  He  also  made  a  tour  of  Connaught,  with  his 
usual  success;  for  he  was  a  man  of  fine  person,  hand- 
some countenance,  and  courtly  manners.  Tradition  still 
preserves  his  memory  green  among  the  Irish  people  of  all 
classes.  He  was  equally  courteous  to  the  lord  and  to 
the  peasant.  In  the  castles  and  mansions  of  the  aristoc- 
racy he  was  ever  the  favored  guest,  and  he  charmejl  all 
his  entertainers  with  the  brilliancy  of  his  conversational 
powers  and  the  versatility  of  his  knowledge.  Among 
the  poor,  he  was  looked  upon  as  "some  glorious  guardian 
angel,"  who  had  come  as  a  messenger  from  the  God  of 
Freedom  to  rid  them  of  their  galling  chains.  It  is  a 
singular  fact  that,  although  he  must  have  taken  thou- 
sands, high  and  low,  into  his  confidence,  not  a  man  seems 
to  have  betrayed  him  to  the  Castle  Government,  which 
remained  in  profound  ignorance  of  his  plot  until  the  very 
eve  of  insurrection.  Robert  Emmet,  in  after  times,  prac- 
ticed the  methods  of  O'More,  but  with  far  less  wisdom, 

196  The  People's  History  of  Ireland 

although  influenced  by  the  same  lofty  principles  of  pa- 

The  records  of  the  times  in  which  he  lived  do  not 
show  that  O'More  went  extensively  into  Munster,  but 
he  did  excellent  missionary  work  among  the  Anglo-Cath- 
olic nobles  of  his  own  native  province  of  Leinster.  He 
found  them,  as  a  majority,  very  lukewarm  toward  his 
project,  influenced,  no  doubt,  by  fears  of  the  consequences 
to  themselves  should  the  contemplated  revolution  prove 
abortive.  Although  not  a  trained  soldier,  O'More  had 
keen  military  foresight.  The  army  raised  by  Strafford 
in  Ireland  was  mainly  made  up  of  Catholics — for  he  does 
not  seem  to  have  discriminated  very  much  in  the  matter 
of  creed — and  these  troops  were,  in  consequence,  regarded 
with  distrust,  and  even  intense  hatred,  by  the  people  of 
England,  to  whom  the  very  name  of  Catholic  was,  in 
those  days,  odious.  The  vacillating  king,  influenced  by 
the  prejudices  of  his  English  subjects,  resolved  to  get  rid 
of  his  Irish  army,  and  gave  such  of  the  regiments  as 
might  so  elect  permission  to  enter  the  service  of  Spain. 
Some  did  volunteer,  but  O'More  prevailed  on  many  of 
the  officers  to  keep  their  battalions  together,  and  thus 
secured  the  nucleus  of  a  well-trained  military  force  at  the 
very  outset  of  hostilities.  Among  the  influential  Irish 
officers  who  acted  on  O'More's  suggestion  were  Colonel 
Plunket,  Colonel  Sir  James  Dillon,  Colonel  Byrne,  and 
Captain  Fox.  These,  with  O'More,  constituted  the  first 
Directory  of  the  Irish  Confederates  of  Leinster.  Mean- 
while active  communication  was  kept  up  with  their  friends 
on  the  Continent,  and  emissaries  were  coming  and  going 
all  the  time  between  the  two  organizations.  The  head 
of  the  movement  abroad  appears  to  have  been  John 


The  People's  History  of  Ireland  197 

O'Neill,  Earl  of  Tyrone,  who,  however,  died  suddenly — 
some  writers  aver  by  the  hand  of  a  poisoner — early  in 
1641 ;  and  the  military  exiles  immediately  transferred 
their  allegiance  to  his  cousin,  Colonel  Owen  Roe  O'Neill, 
with  whom  we  have  already  made  acquaintance.  It  was 
agreed  among  the  allies  that  the  uprising  for  Irish  lib- 
erty should  occur  about  the  ist  of  November,  and  Oc- 
tober 23,  1641,  was  finally  decided  upon  as  the  fateful 
day.  The  date  was  made  known  to  only  the  most  trusted 
chiefs  of  the  projected  insurrection. 

Everything  appeared  to  prosper  with  the  plans  of  the 
patriots  until  the  actual  eve  of  the  rising.  On  that  night 
(October  22),  as  fate  would  have  it,  there  dined  with 
Colonel  Hugh  MacMahon — to  whom  was  intrusted  the 
command  of  200  picked  men  who  were  to  surprise  the 
Castle — several  Irish  officers  concerned  in  the  conspiracy. 
Among  the  guests  was  one  Owen  O' Connolly,  an  un- 
worthy creature  for  whom  MacMahon  would  appear  to 
have  entertained  an  unaccountable  friendship.  Accord- 
ing to  tradition,  O'Connolly  remained  with  Colonel  Mac- 
Mahon after  the  other  guests  had  gone  to  their  several 
abodes,  and,  in  a  moment  of  inexcusable  weakness,  the 
unhappy  host,  who  must  have  been  rendered  reckless 
by  wine,  confided  to  his  traitor-guest  the  secret  so  mo- 
mentous to  Ireland.  O'Connolly  was  more  than  half 
intoxicated,  but,  unknown  to  MacMahon,  he  was  in  the 
service  of  a  strong  government  supporter,  named  Sir 
John  Clotworthy,  and  the  danger  which  menaced  his 
patron  made  the  fellow  sober  enough  to  outwit  his  fool- 
ish informant.  In  order  to  divert  suspicion,  he  pre- 
tended, after  a  time,  that  he  wished  to  retire,  and  left 
his  sword  in  MacMahon's  room.  He  managed  to  reach 

198  The  People's  History  of  Ireland 

the  rear  door  of  the  lodgings,  and  made  his  way  over 
all  kinds  of  obstacles,  in  the  dark,  to  the  castle,  where, 
after  much  trouble,  he  succeeded  in  getting  audience  of 
Sir  William  Parsons,  to  whom  he  related  what  Colonel 
MacMahon  had  revealed  to  him.  Parsons,  observing 
that  O'Connolly  was  still  under  the  influence  of  strong 
drink,  at  first  refused  to  believe  him,  and  was  on  the 
point  of  turning  him  out  of  doors,  when  something  in 
the  rascal's  earnestness  made  him  pause  and  consider. 
As  a  result  of  his  musing,  he  sent  for  his  colleague, 
Sir  John  Borlaise,  Master  of  the  Ordnance;  the  latter 
immediately  advised  the  summoning  of  the  council.  Sev- 
eral members  of  that  body  soon  appeared,  and  the  depo- 
sition of  the  informer  was  formally  taken.  A  squad 
of  soldiers  surrounded  MacMahon's  lodgings  and  cap- 
tured him.  Lord  McGuire  was  also  taken,  but  Colonels 
Plunket  and  O'Byrne,  Rory  O'Moore,  and  Captain  Fox, 
who  were  also  in  the  city,  succeeded  in  making  good 
their  escape.  MacMahon,  on  being  arraigned  before  the 
Privy  Council  in  the  Castle,  at  daylight  on  the  memorable 
23d,  defiantly  acknowledged  his  share  in  the  plot,  and 
declared  that  it  was  then  too  late  for  the  power  of  man 
to  prevent  the  revolution.  He  showed  great  courage,  as 
did  also  his  colleague,  Lord  McGuire,  but  MacMahon's 
bravery  could  have  been  much  better  spared  than  his  dis- 
cretion, the  want  of  which  sent  himself  and  his  com- 
panion in  misfortune  to  the  scaffold,  and,  undoubtedly, 
lost  to  Ireland  the  best  chance  she  had  ever  had  of  sev- 
ering the  connection  with  Great  Britain.  This  unhappy 
result  teaches  a  harsh,  but  useful,  political  lesson :  Never 
to  confide  a  secret  that  concerns  a  great  cause  to  a  dubious 
"hanger-on,"  and  to  avoid  the  cup  that  inebriates  when 

The  People's  History  of  Ireland  199 

one  is  the  possessor  of  such  a  secret,  or  whether  one  is  or 
not.  O'Connolly's  treachery  was  rewarded  by  a  grant  of 
lands  from  "the  crown,"  and  he  was  afterward  a  colonel 
in  Cromwell's  army.  His  ultimate  fate  is  involved  in 
obscurity.  But  his  name  is  embalmed  in  the  annals  of 
enduring  infamy. 

The  Lords  Justices  of  England,  in  Dublin,  once  made 
aware  of  the  situation,  lost  no  time  in  putting  the  Castle 
and  city  at  large  in  a  posture  of  defence.  The  guards 
were  doubled  and  reinforcements  were  summoned,  by 
special  messengers,  from  neighboring  garrisons.  Two 
tried  soldiers  were  invested  with  the  military  power — 
Sir  John  Willoughby,  who  had  been  Governor  of  Gal- 
way,  assumed  command  of  the  Castle;  and  Sir  Charles 
Coote — one  of  the  blackest  names  in  Irish  annals — was 
made  military  governor  of  the  city.  The  Earl  of  Or- 
mond — afterward  Duke — was  summoned  from  Carrick- 
cn-Suir  to  assume  chief  command  of  the  royal  army. 
Thus,  the  Irish  capital  was  again  preserved,  through  folly 
and  treason,  to  the  English  interest. 

MacMahon  made  no  vain  boast  before  the  Privy  Coun- 
cil, when  he  declared  that  the  rising  was  beyond  the 
power  of  man  to  prevent.  Ulster  did  its  full  duty,  and, 
on  the  morning  of  October  23,  the  forts  of  Mountjoy 
and  Charlemont  and  the  town  and  castle  of  Dungannon 
were  in  the  hands  of  Sir  Phelim  O'Neill  or  his  chief 
officers.  Sir  Connor  MacGennis  captured  Newry;  the 
MacMahons  took  Carrickmacross  and  Castleblaney,  the 
O'Hanlon's,  Tandragee,  while  O'Reilly  and  McGuire — 
a  relative  of  the  lord  of  that  name — "raised"  Cavan  and 
Femanagh.  (McGee.)  Rory  O'More  supplemented  a 
brief  address  of  the  northern  chiefs,  wherein  they  de- 

2oo  The  People's  History  of  Ireland 

clared  they  bore  no  hostility  to  the  king,  or  to  his  En- 
glish or  Scotch  subjects,  "but  only  for  the  defence  and 
liberty  of  themselves  and  the  native  Irish  of  the  king- 
dom," with  one  more  elaborate,  in  which  he  ably  showed 
that  a  common  danger  threatened  the  Protestants  of  the 
Episcopal  Church  with  Roman  Catholics.  In  all  the 
manifestos  of  the  time,  there  was  entirely  too  much 
profession  of  "loyalty"  to  a  king  who  was  constitution- 
ally incapacitated  for  keeping  faith  with  any  body  of 
men  whatsoever.  Never  was  the  adage  that  "Politics 
makes  strange  bedfellows"  more  forcibly  illustrated  than 
during  this  period  of  Irish  history.  The  manliest  of  all 
the  declarations  issued  was  that  of  Sir  Connor  MacGen- 
nis,  from  "Newry's  captured  towers."  "We  are  in 
arms,"  wrote  he,  "for  our  lives  and  liberties.  We  de- 
sire no  blood  to  be  shed,  but  if  you  (the  English  and 
their  allies)  mean  to  shed  our  blood,  be  sure  we  shall  be 
as  ready  as  you  for  that  purpose." 


Horrors  of  Civil  War  in  Ulster— Battle  of  Kilrush— Rory  O'More 
Disappears  from  History 

AT  first  the  civil  war  in  Ulster — for  in  the  main  it  was 
the  Old  Irish  against  the  Anglo-Irish'  settlers  of  the 
Elizabethan  regime,  or  their  immediate  descendants — 
was  carried  on  without  ferocity,  but  the  Scottish  garrison 
of  Carrickfergus,  in  the  winter  of  1641,  raided  Island  Ma- 
gee,  in  the  neighborhood,  and  put  to  the  sword  or  drove 
over  the  cliffs,  to  perish  in  the  breakers  beneath  them, 
or  be  dashed  to  pieces  on  the  rocks,  3,000  of  the  Celtic- 
Catholic  inhabitants,  without  regard  to  age  or  sex.  Prot- 
estant historians  claim  that  acts  of  cruelty  had  been  com- 

The  People's  History  of  Ireland  201 

mitted  on  the  Anglo-Irish  settlers  by  the  Celtic  Irish  be- 
fore this  terrible  massacre  was  accomplished.  There  may 
have  been  some  isolated  cases  of  murder  and  rapine — for 
bad  and  cruel  men  are  to  be  found  in  all  armies — but 
nothing  that  called  for  the  wholesale  slaughter  at  Island 
Magee  by  fanatical  Scottish  Covenanters,  who  made  up 
a  majority  of  the  Carrickfergus  garrison.  Christians,  not 
to  mention  Mohammedans  and  savage  heathens,  have 
shed  oceans  of  blood  in  fierce  persecution  of  each  other, 
as  if  they  were  serving  a  furious  devil,  rather  than  a  mer- 
ciful God.  They  forget,  in  their  unreasoning  hatred,  that 
the  gentle  Messiah,  whose  teachings  they  profess  to  fol- 
low, never  made  the  sword  the  ally  of  the  Cross.  The 
man  made  mad  by  religious  bigotry  is  a  wild  beast,  no 
matter  what  creed  he  may  profess.  Let  us,  as  Americans, 
be  thankful  that  we  live  under  a  government  which  rec- 
ognizes the  equal  rights  of  all  the  creeds,  and  permits 
every  citizen  to  worship  God  in  peace,  after  his  own  fash- 
ion. May  the  day  never  come  when  it  shall  be  different 
in  this  Republic! 

The  frightful  event  we  have  chronicled  naturally 
aroused  the  worst  passions  of  the  angered  Catholic  popu- 
lation of  Ulster,  and  some  cruel  reprisals  resulted.  We 
are  sorry  to  be  obliged  to  state  that  credible  history 
ascribes  most  of  the  violence  committed  on  the  Irish  side 
to  Sir  Phelim  O'Neill ;  but  no  charge  of  the  kind  is  made 
against  O'More,  MacGennis,  McGuire,  Plunket,  O'Byrne, 
or  any  of  the  other  noted  chiefs  of  the  period.  It  is  im- 
possible to  arrive  at  any  accurate  statement  of  the  number 
of  those  who  perished  on  both  sides,  outside  of  the  nu- 
merous battlefields  of  the  long  struggle;  but  it  is  certain 
they  have  been  grossly  exaggerated,  particularly  by  En- 

2O2  The  People's  History  of  Ireland 

glish  writers,  who  took  for  granted  every  wild  statement 
made  at  the  period.  But,  even  granting  that  all  the 
charges  made  were  true,  which,  of  course,  we  do  not  ad- 
mit, the  fact  would  not  stamp  the  charge  of  cruelty  on  the 
Irish  nation.  It  was  an  age  of  cruelty — the  age  of  the 
Thirty  Years'  War  in  Germany,  which  gave  to  the  world 
the  horrors  of  the  sack  of  Magdeburgh ;  the  age  of  the 
wars  of  the  Fronde  in  France,  and  almost  that  of  the 
Spanish  atrocities  in  the  Netherlands.  And  Cromwell 
was  soon  to  appear  upon  the  scene  in  Ireland,  to  leave 
behind  him  a  name  more  terrible  than  that  of  Tilly  in 
Germany  or  of  Alva  in  the  Low  Countries.  In  fact,  in 
the  seventeenth  century,  Europe,  from  east  to  west,  was 
just  emerging  from  Middle-Age  barbarism,  and  Ireland, 
most  likely,  was  neither  better  nor  worse  than  most  of 
her  sister  states.  We  love  and  respect  the  Irish  race,  but 
we  do  not  believe  in  painting  it  whiter  than  it  is.  The 
nation,  plundered  and  outraged,  was  goaded  to  madness, 
and  whatever  crimes  were  committed  under  such  circum- 
stances may  well  be  attributed  to  the  workings  of  tempo- 
rary insanity.  It  is,  however,  regrettable  that  around  the 
history  of  the  Irish  insurrection  of  1641  there  should 
linger  blood-red  clouds,  which  even  the  lapse  of  two  and 
a  half  centuries  has  not  been  able  to  dissipate. 

On  the  Anglo-Irish  side  of  the  conflict,  the  name  of 
Sir  Charles  Coote  stands  out  in  bloody  pre-eminence. 
Like  Sir  Phelim,  he  had  the  grand  virtue  of  physical 
courage — he  feared  nothing  in  mortal  shape — but  in  all 
else  he  was  a  demon-brute,  and  his  memory  is  still  exe- 
crated throughout  the  length  and  breadth  of  the  land 
he  scourged  with  scorpions.  His  soldiers  are  accused 
of  having  impaled  Irish  infants  on  their  pikes — their 

The  People's  History  of  Ireland  203 

mothers  having  been  dishonored  and  butchered — with- 
out rebuke  from  their  inhuman  commander.  On  the 
contrary,  McGee,  a  very  painstaking  and  impartial  his- 
torian, quotes  Sir  Charles  Coote  as  saying  that  "he 
liked  such  frolics."  (McGee's  "History  of  Ireland," 
Volume  I,  p.  502.)  It  is  not  unpleasant  to  note  that, 
after  a  career  of  the  most  aggressive  cruelty,  he  was 
finally  killed  by  a  musket-shot  during  a  petty  skirmish 
in  the  County  Meath,  and  it  is  popular  belief  that  the  shot 
was  fired  by  one  of  his  own  band  of  uniformed  assassins. 

The  war  proceeded  in  a  rather  desultory  manner, 
chiefly  because  of  lack  of  skill  in  the  Irish  generals — only 
a  few  of  whom  had  seen  service — and  the  promised  Irish 
military  leaders  had  not  yet  sailed  from  the  Continent. 
Sir  Phelim  O'Neill  made  an  unsuccessful  attack  on  Drog- 
heda,  and  was  also  repulsed  at  other  fortified  places,  ow- 
ing to  the  lack  of  a  suitable  battering  train.  English  re- 
inforcements kept  pouring  into  Dublin  by  the  shipload, 
until  a  fine  army  of  not  less  than  25,000  men,  with  a 
numerous  and  well-served  artillery,  was  in  the  field.  The 
Irish  army  amounted,  nominally,  to  30,000  men,  but  only 
a  third  of  it  was  armed  and  properly  trained. 

The  excesses  of  the  English  army  in  the  peaceful  An- 
glo-Catholic districts  of  Leinster  aroused  the  resentment 
of  the  hitherto  apathetic  nobility  and  "gentry"  of  that 
fine  province.  They  appointed  Sir  John  Read  to  bear  a 
protest  to  the  king,  but,  while  en  route,  he  was  arrested, 
confined  in  Dublin  Castle  and  put  to  the  rack  by  the  Par- 
liamentary Government.  Even  this  outrage  did  not  drive 
the  aristocrats  of  Leinster  into  immediate  warfare.  Other 
outrages  followed  in  quick  succession.  Finally,  Lord 
Gormanstown  called  a  meeting  of  the  Catholic  peers  and 

2O4  The  People's  History  of  Ireland 

gentlemen  to  assemble  at  the  hill  of  Crofty,  in  the  County 
Meath.  They  met  there  accordingly,  headed  by  the 
caller  of  the  gathering.  Other  distinguished  Palesmen 
present  were  the  Earl  of  Fingal,  Lords  Dunsany,  Louth, 
Slane,  Trimleston,  and  Netterville;  Sir  Christopher  Bel- 
lew,  Sir  Patrick  Barnewall,  Nicholas  Darcy,  Gerald  Ayl- 
mer,  and  many  others.  While  these  personages  were  still 
deliberating,  they  observed  a  group  of  horsemen,  bearing 
arms,  approaching  at  a  rapid  pace.  They  were  attended 
by  a  guard  of  musketeers,  and  proved  to  be  the  insurgent 
chiefs  of  Roger  O'More,  Philip  O'Reilly,  Costello  Mac- 
Mahon,  Captains  Byrne  and  Fox,  and  other  leaders  of 
the  people.  The  party  on  the  hill  immediately  galloped 
on  horseback  to  meet  them,  and  Lord  Gormanstown,  in 
loud  and  stern  tones,  asked :  "Who  are  you,  and  why  come 
you  armed  into  the  Pale  ?"  To  this  question  O'More  re- 
plied :  "We  represent  the  persecuted  people  of  the  Catholic 
faith,  and  we  come  here  for  the  assertion  of  the  liberty 
of  conscience,  the  maintenance  of  the  royal  prerogative, 
which  we  understand  to  be  abridged,  and  the  making  of 
the  subjects  in  this  Kingdom  of  Ireland  as  free  as  those 
of  England."  "Then,"  replied  Gormanstown,  "seeing 
that  these  be  your  true  end  and  object,  we  will  likewise 
join  with  you !"  The  leaders  on  both  sides  then  joined 
hands,  amid  the  applause  of  their  followers.  A  more 
formal  meeting  was  arranged  for  at  the  hill  of  Tara,  and 
at  that  gathering,  held  the  next  month,  the  alliance  was 
formally  concluded. 

The  faulty  training  of  the  Irish  army  was  painfully  il- 
lustrated soon  afterward,  when  the  forces  of  the  newly 
made  allies  encountered  those  of  Lord  Ormond  at  a  place 
called  Kilrush,  near  the  town  of  Athy,  in  Kildare,  April 

The  People's  History  of  Ireland  205 

13,  1642.  The  numbers  were  about  equal  —  perhaps 
7,000  men  each.  The  Irish  were  commanded  by  a  brave 
but  inexperienced  officer,  Lord  Mountgarret,  and  with 
him  were  Lords  Dunboyne  and  Ikerrin,  Rory  O'More, 
Colonel  Hugh  O'Byrne,  and  Sir  Morgan  Kavanagh. 
Mountgarret  failed  to  occupy  in  time  a  difficult  pass 
through  which  Ormond  must  march  on  his  way  to  Dub- 
lin, and  this  failure  compelled  him  to  rearrange  his  plan 
of  battle.  Confusion — as  is  always  the  case  when  this 
experiment  is  tried  with  raw  soldiers — resulted  The 
Irish  fought  bravely  for  a  time,  but  were  soon  outma- 
noeuvred and  outflanked.  The  Anglo-Irish  cavalry  took 
them  in  reverse.  Colonel  Kavanagh,  righting  desper- 
ately at  the  head  of  his  regiment,  met  a  hero's  death. 
His  fall  discouraged  his  troops,  who  broke  and  fled  to  a 
neighboring  bog,  whither  the  hostile  cavalry  could  not 
safely  pursue  them.  The  other  Irish  troops,  surrounded 
on  all  sides,  made  a  rush  for  the  morass  also,  broke 
through  the  enemy's  ranks  and  joined  their  vanquished 
comrades.  On  the  Irish  side,  700  officers  and  men  fell 
in  this  untoward  affair.  The  loss  of  the  Anglo-Irish 
was  much  smaller,  and  Ormond  was  enabled  to  proceed 
in  a  species  of  triumph  to  Dublin,  where  the  news  of 
his  victory  preceded  his  arrival. 

It  is  passing  strange  that,  after  the  battle  of  Kilrush, 
the  great  organizer  of  the  insurrection,  Roger  O'More, 
is  heard  of  never  more  in  his  country's  troubled  annals. 
All  accounts  agree  that,  during  the  combat,  he  acted  his 
part  like  a  true  soldier,  but  he  failed  to  reappear  in  the 
Irish  ranks  during  subsequent  conflicts.  His  was  cer- 
tainly a  mysterious  and  unaccountable  disappearance. 

The  late  Rev.  C.  P.  Meehan,  author  of  The  Confed- 

206  The   People's  History  of  Ireland 

eration  of  Kilkenny,"  who  gave  more  attention  to  that 
period  of  his  country's  story  than  any  other  writer,  says, 
on  page  26  of  his  interesting  work :  "After  the  battle  of 
Kilrush,  one  bright  name  disappears  [he  mentions 
O'More  in  a  foot-note]  ;  the  last  time  the  inspiriting 
war-shout  of  his  followers  fell  on  his  ear  was  on  that 
hillside.  What  reasons  there  may  have  been  for  the  re- 
tirement of  the  gallant  chief,  whose  name  was  linked  with 
that  of  God  and  Our  Lady,  are  not  apparent ;  but  it  is  said, 
upon  authority,  that  he  proceeded  to  Ferns,  and  devoted 
the  rest  of  his  days  to  peaceful  pursuits  in  the  bosom  of 
his  family."  The  historian  Coote  says  that  he  died  at 
Kilkenny.  This  was,  surely,  a  "lame  and  impotent  con- 
clusion" to  such  a  career.  The  defeat  of  his  countrymen 
may  have  destroyed  his  hopes,  or  he  may  have  had  reason 
to  doubt  the  loyalty  of  his  allies  of  the  Pale.  We  are 
inclined  to  believe  an  old  Leinster  tradition,  which  says 
that  he  died  of  a  broken  heart  immediately  after  the  lost 
battle,  on  which  he  had  built  such  high  hopes.  Such  a 
spirit  as  his  could  not  have  remained  inactive  during  the 
nine  long  years  of  the  struggle,  inaugurated  by  himself, 
which  followed  the  disaster  at  Kilrush. 

We  can  not  dismiss  this  extraordinary  man  from  our 
pages  without  quoting  the  following  introduction  to  a 
ballad  dealing  with  his  career  in  Edward  Hayes's  re- 
markable collection  of  poetry,  called  "The  Ballads  of 
Ireland,"  vol.  I,  page  173  : 

"Roger,  or  Rory,  O'More,  is  one  of  the  most  hon- 
ored and  stainless  names  in  Irish  annals.  Writers  who 
concur  in  nothing  else  agree  in  representing  him  as  a 
man  of  the  loftiest  motives  and  the  most  passionate  pa- 
triotism. In  1640,  when  Ireland  was  weakened  by  defeat 

The  People's  History  of  Ireland  207 

and  confiscation,  and  guarded  with  a  jealous  care,  con- 
stantly increasing  in  strictness  and  severity,  O'More, 
then  a  private  gentleman  with  no  resources  beyond  his 
intellect  and  courage,  conceived  the  vast  design  of  rescu- 
ing her  from  England,  and  accomplished  it.  In  three 
years  England  did  not  retain  a  city  in  the  island  but 
Dublin  and  Drogheda.  For  eight  years  her  power  was 
merely  nominal,  the  land  was  possessed  and  the  supreme 
authority  exercised  by  the  Confederation  created  by 
O'More.  History  contains  no  stricter  instance  of  the 
influence  of  an  individual  mind.  Before  the  insur- 
rection broke  out  the  people  had  learned  to  know  and 
expect  their  Deliverer,  and  it  became  a  popular  proverb, 
and  the  burden  of  national  songs,  that  the  hope  of  Ire- 
land was  in  'God,  the  Virgin,  and  Rory  O'More.'  It 
is  remarkable  that  O'More,  in  whose  courage  and  re- 
sources the  great  insurrection  had  its  birth,  was  a  descen- 
dant of  the  chieftains  of  Leix,  massacred  by  English 
troops  at  Mullaghmast  a  century  before.  But  if  he  took 
a  great  revenge,  it  was  a  magnanimous  one.  None  of 
the  excesses  which  stained  the  first  rising  in  Ulster  is 
charged  upon  him.  On  the  contrary,  when  he  joined  the 
northern  army,  the  excesses  ceased,  and  strict  discipline 
was  established,  as  far  as  it  was  possible,  among  men 
unaccustomed  to  control,  and  wild  with  wrongs  and  suf- 
ferings." Says  De  Vere,  in  his  sadly  beautiful  dirge, 
which  assumes  that  the  great  leader  died  in  164.2,  as  the 
people  of  Leinster  have  been  taught  to  believe — 

"  'Twas  no  dream,  Mother  Land !     'Twas  no  dream,  Innisfail ! 
Hope  dreams  but  grief  dreams  not — the  grief  of  the  Gael! 
From  Leix  and  Ikerrin  to  Donegal's  shore, 

Rolls  the  dirge  of  thy  last  and  thy  bravest  O'More!" 
Ireland — 10  Vol.  L 

ao8  The  People's  History  of  Ireland 


Proceedings  of  the  Confederation  of  Kilkenny — Arrival  of  Owen 
Roe  O'Neill  and  Rinuccini 

OUT  of  the  chaos  of  a  popular  uprising,  and  a  num- 
ber of  minor  councils,  which  could  decide  only  for 
localities,  there  sprang  into  existence  the  National  Synod, 
composed  of  clerics  and  laymen  of  the  Catholic  persua- 
sion, because,  at  this  period,  few,  if  any  of  the  Irish 
Protestants  were  in  sympathy  with  the  insurrection,  or 
revolution,  which  is  a  more  fitting  term.  The  "oath 
of  association"  was  formulated  by  the  venerable  Bishop 
Rothe,  and,  somewhat  unnecessarily,  seeing  that  the 
King  of  England  was  using  all  the  forces  at  his  disposal 
to  crush  "the  rebellion,"  pledged  true  faith  and  allegiance 
to  Charles  I  and  his  lawful  successors.  The  fundamental 
laws  of  Ireland  and  the  "free  exercise  of  the  Roman 
Catholic  faith  and  religion"  were  to  be  maintained.  Then 
came  the  second,  and  most  important,  part  of  the  solemn 
and,  as  some  thought,  stringent  obligation,  which  bound 
all  Confederate  Catholics  never  to  accept  or  submit  to 
any  peace  without  the  consent  and  approbation  of  their 
own  general  assembly. 

A  constitution  was  framed  which  declared  the  war 
just  and  constitutional,  condemned  racial  distinctions 
such  as  "New"  and  "Old"  Irish,  ordained  an  elective 
council  for  each  of  the  four  provinces,  and  a  national 
council  for  the  whole  kingdom,  condemned,  as  excom- 
municate, all  who  might  violate  the  oath  of  association, 
or  who  should  be  guilty  of  murder,  assault,  cruelty,  or 
plunder  under  cover  of  the  war. 

The  People's  History  of  Ireland  209 

The  bishops  and  priests,  Very  wisely,  decided  that  a 
layman  should  be  elected  president  of  the  National  Coun- 
cil, and  Lord  Mountgarret  was  so  chosen,  with  Richard 
Belling,  lawyer  and  litterateur,  as  secretary.  Both  were 
men  of  moderate  opinion  and  free  from  any  taint  of 

It  was  decided  that  the  Supreme,  or  National,  Council 
should  hold  its  first  session  in  the  city  of  Kilkenny  on 
October  23,  1642,  the  anniversary  of  the  rising;  and  "the 
choice  of  such  a  date,"  says  McGee,  "by  men  of  Mount- 
garret's  and  Belling's  moderation  and  judgment,  six 
months  after  the  date  of  the  alleged  'massacre,'  would 
form  another  proof,  if  any  were  now  needed,  that  none 
of  the  alleged  atrocities  (of  1641)  were  yet  associated 
with  that  particular  day." 

Between  the  adjournment  of  the  National  Synod,  in 
May,  and  the  meeting  of  the  Council  in  October,  many 
stirring  events  occurred.  The  confederate  general  in 
Munster,  the  aged  Barry,  made  an  unsuccessful  attempt 
to  capture  Cork,  but  had  better  success  at  Limerick,  which 
surrendered  to  the  Irish  army  on  June  21.  Soon  after- 
ward the  Anglo-Irish  leader,  General  St.  Ledger,  died  at 
Cork,  and  the  command  devolved  upon  Murrough 
O'Brien,  Baron  of  Inchiquin,  who  had  been  brought  up 
from  .an  early  age  as  one  of  Parsons'  chancery  wards, 
and  had,  therefore,  become  a  Protestant.  Furthermore, 
he  had  grown  to  be  an  anti-Irish  Irishman  of  the  black- 
est and  bloodiest  type.  In  Irish  history,  he  is  known  as 
"Black  Murrough  the  Burner,"  because  the  torch,  under 
his  brutal  sway,  kept  steady  company  with  the  sword, 
and  both  were  rarely  idle.  He  served  the  king  as  long  as 
the  royal  policy  suited  his  views,  but,  when  it  did  not, 

2iO  The  People's  History  of  Ireland 

his  services  were  at  the  disposal  of  the  opposition.  Mur- 
rough  had  served  his  military  apprenticeship  under  Sir 
Charles  Coote  and  was  a  past  master  in  all  the  cruelties 
practiced  by  his  infamous  instructor.  The  curse  of  the 
renegade  was  strong  upon  him,  for  he  hated  his  own  kin 
more  bitterly  than  if  he  were  an  alien  and  a  Briton.  Of 
the  ancient  royal  houses  of  Ireland,  those  of  MacMur- 
rough  and  O'Brien  present  the  strongest  contrasts  of 
good  and  evil. 

The  Irish  forces  succeeded  in  taking  the  castles  of 
Loughgar  and  Askeaton,  but  Inchiquin  inflicted  a  severe 
defeat  upon  them  at  Liscarroll,  where  the  loss  was  nearly 
a  thousand  men  on  the  side  of  Ireland,  whereas  the  victor 
boasted  that  there  fell  only  a  score  on  his  side.  There 
were  also  some  skirmishes  in  Connaught,  where  the  pe- 
culiar inactivity  of  Lord  Clanricarde  produced  discontent, 
and  led  to  a  popular  outbreak  in  the  town  of  Galway 
which  General  Willoughby  speedily  suppressed,  with  every 
circumstance  of  savage  brutality.  Affairs  in  Leinster 
continued  rather  tranquil.  Ormond  was  raised  by  the 
king  to  the  dignity  of  marquis,  but  does  not  seem  to  have 
been  trusted  by  the  Puritan  Lords  Justices,  Parsons  and 
Borlaise.  The  fall  of  the  year  was  signalized,  however, 
by  the  landing  in  Ireland  of  three  able  generals,  all  of 
whom  fought  on  the  national  side — Right  Hon.  James 
Touchet,  Earl  of  Castlehaven,  who  had  been  imprisoned 
as  a  suspect  in  Dublin  Castle,  but  managed  to  effect  his 
escape;  Colonel  Thomas  Preston,  the  heroic  defender 
of  Louvain,  who  debarked  at  Wexford,  bringing  with 
him  500  officers  of  experience,  several  siege  guns,  a  few 
light  field-pieces,  and  a  limited  quantity  of  small  arms; 
and  last,  but  most  welcome  to  Ireland,  arrived  from  Spain 

The  People's  History  of  Ireland  211 

Colonel  Owen  Roe  O'Neill,  who  made  a  landing  on  the 
Donegal  coast  with  100  officers,  a  company  of  Irish  vet- 
erans, and  a  quantity  of  muskets  and  ammunition.  He 
immediately  proceeded  to  the  fort  of  Charlemont,  held 
by  his  fierce  kinsman,  Sir  Phelim  O'Neill,  who,  with 
commendable  patriotic  self-sacrifice,  resigned  to  him,  un- 
solicited, the  command  of  the  Irish  army  of  the  North, 
and  became,  instead  of  generalissimo,  "President  of 

Simultaneously  with  the  arrival  of  Owen  Roe,  General 
Lord  Leven  came  into  Ireland  from  Scotland  with  10,000 
Puritan  soldiers.  He  had  met  O'Neill  in  the  foreign 
wars  and  expressed  publicly  his  surprise  that  he  should 
be  "engaged  in  so  bad  a  cause" — to  which  Owen  replied 
that  he  had  a  much  better  right  to  come  to  the  rescue  of 
Ireland,  his  native  country,  than  Lord  Leven  had  to 
march  into  England  against  his  acknowledged  monarch. 
Leven  did  not  remain  long  in  Ireland,  and  the  command 
of  his  troops  fell  to  General  Monroe — a  brave  but  slow 
man,  on  whom  the  advice  of  his  predecessor  to  act  with 
vigor  was  thrown  away.  Monroe's  dilatory  tactics  en- 
abled O'Neill,  who  had  wonderful  talent  for  military  or- 
ganization, to  recruit,  drill,  and  equip  a  formidable  force, 
mainly  made  up  of  the  men  of  Tyrone  and  Donegal — as 
fine  a  body  of  troops  as  Ireland  had  ever  summoned  to  her 
defence.  The  valorous  clansmen  were  speedily  molded 
into  a  military  machine  by  their  redoubted  chief,  who 
set  the  example  of  activity  to  all  of  his  command. 

When  the  Supreme  Council  of  the  Irish  Confederation 
met  in  Kilkenny,  according  to  agreement,  one  of  its 
most  important  acts  was-  the  appointing  of  generals  to 
command  in  the  several  provinces.  It  named  Owen 

212  The  People's  History  of  Ireland 

O'Neill  commander-in  chief  in  Ulster,  General  Sir 
Thomas  Preston  in  Leinster,  General  Barry  in  Munster, 
and  General  Sir  John  Burke  in  Connaught.  Fighting 
was  resumed  with  vigor.  Preston  met  with  alternate 
successes  and  reverses  in  his  province,  but,  on  the  whole, 
came  out  victorious.  Barry  and  his  lieutenants  did  bril- 
liant work  in  Munster,  and  routed  both  Vavassour  and 
Inchiquin.  O'Neill  played  a  Fabian  game  in  Ulster, 
training  his  army  in  partial  engagements  with  the  enemy 
and  husbanding  his  resources  for  some  great  occasion, 
which,  he  saw,  would  surely  come.  But  the  brightest 
laurels  of  the  campaign  were  gathered  by  General  Sir 
John  Burke,  who,  after  other  brilliant  exploits,  compelled 
General  Willoughby  to  surrender  the  city  of  Galway  to 
the  Irish  forces  on  June  20,  1643;  and  the  national  flag 
waved  from  the  tower  of  its  citadel  until  the  last  shot  of 
the  war  was  fired  nine  years  thereafter.  Clanricarde, 
who  could  have  had  the  command-in-chief,  paltered  with 
time,  and  thus  lost  the  opportunity  of  linking  his  name 
with  a  glorious  exploit. 

All  the  Irish  armies,  and  particularly  that  under 
O'Neill,  occupied  excellent  strategic  positions,  and  the 
hopes  of  the  military  chiefs  and  the  nation  rose  high 
when,  suddenly,  there  came  a  blight  upon  those  hopes  in 
the  shape  of  a  cessation  of  hostilities — in  other  words,  a 
prolonged  armistice — agreed  to  between  the  Anglo-Cath- 
olic majority  in  the  National  Council  on  the  one  side, 
and  the  Marquis  of  Ormond,  representing  the  King  of 
England,  on  the  other.  The  Anglo-Catholics  were  again 
duped  by  pretences  of  liberality  toward  their  religion,  as 
their  fathers  had  been  in  the  days  of  Elizabeth;  and  this 
ill-considered  truce  wrested  from  Ireland  all  the  advan- 

The  People's  History  of  Ireland  213 

tages  won  in  the  war — which  had  already  lasted  two  years 
— by  the  ability  of  her  generals  and  the  courage  of  her 
troops.  Vain  was  the  protest  of  O'Neill,  of  Preston,  of 
Burke,  of  Barry,  of  the  Papal  Nuncio,  of  the  majority 
of  the  Irish  nation.  Charles  was  in  straits  in  England, 
fighting  the  Parliamentary  forces  arrayed  against  his 
acts  of  despotism,  and  Ormond  promised  everything  in 
order  to  end  the  war  in  Ireland,  temporarily  at  least,  and 
so  be  enabled  to  send  needed  succor  to  a  sovereign  whom 
he  loved  and  served  much  better  than  he  did  God  and 
country.  With  incredible  fatuity,  the  Anglo-Catholic 
majority  in  the  National  Council  listened  to  the  voice  of 
Ormond,  and  voted  men  and  money  to  support  the  cause 
of  the  bad  king  who  had  let  Strafford  loose  upon  Ire- 
land !  We  are  glad  to  be  able  to  say  that  the  "Old  Irish" 
element,  represented  by  the  brave  and  able  O'Neill,  was 
in  nowise  responsible  for  this  act  of  weakness  and  folly. 
O'Neill  saw  into  futurity,  and  frightful  must  have  been 
that  vision  to  the  patriot-hero,  for  it  included  the  horrors 
of  Drogheda  and  Wexford,  where  the  thirsty  sword  of 
Cromwell  bitterly  avenged  on  Ireland  the  foolish  and 
fatal  "truce  of  Castlemartin" ;  another  lesson  to  nations, 
if  indeed  another  were  needed,  to  avoid  mixing  up  in 
the  quarrels  of  their  neighbors.  Ireland  invited  ruin  on 
that  dark  day  when  she  voted  to  draw  the  sword  for  the 
ungrateful  Charles  Stuart  against  the  Parliament  of  Eng- 
land. The  temporary  concession  of  Catholic  privileges 
— designed  to  be  withdrawn  when  victory  perched  on  the 
royal  banner — was  poor  compensation  for  the  loss  of 
advantages  gained  at  the  price  of  the  blood  of  brave 
men,  and  the  sowing  of  a  wind  of  vengeance  which  pro- 
duced the  Cromwellian  whirlwind.  If  King  Charles  had 

214  The  People's  History  of  Ireland 

ever  done  a  fair  or  manly  act  by  Ireland — even  by  the 
Anglo-Catholics  of  Ireland — the  folly  of  that  country 
might  be,  in  a  measure,  excusable,  but  his  whole  policy 
had  been,  on  the  contrary,  cold-blooded,  double-faced, 
and  thoroughly  ungrateful.  In  this  instance,  the  Anglo- 
Irish  Catholics  brought  all  their  subsequent  misfortunes 
on  themselves.  As  if  to  emphasize  its  imbecility,  the 
National  Council  placed  Lord  Castlehaven,  an  English 
Catholic,  in  supreme  command  over  O'Neill  in  Ulster. 
Owen  Roe  was,  of  course,  disgusted,  but  was  also  too 
good  a  soldier  and  too  zealous  a  patriot  to  resign  his 
command  and  go  back  to  Spain,  as  a  man  of  less  noble 
nature  might  have  done.  Meanwhile,  Monroe  and  his 
army  of  10,000  Lowland  Scotch  and  Ulster  "Undertak- 
ers" kept  gathering  like  a  thundercloud  in  the  north.  In 
Scotland  a  body  of  3,000  Antrim  Irish,  under  Alister 
MacDonald,  called  Cal-Kitto,  or  "the  Left-handed,"  were 
covering  themselves  with  glory,  fighting  under  the  great 
Marquis  of  Montrose  in  the  unworthy  royal  cause.  And 
we  read  that  the  Irish  Confederate  treasury,  about  this 
time,  is  somewhat  replenished  by  funds  sent  from  Spain 
and  Rome.  Even  the  great  Cardinal  Richelieu,  of  France, 
to  show  his  sympathy  with  Ireland,  invited  Con,  the  last 
surviving  son  of  the  great  O'Neill,  to  the  French  court, 
and  permitted  the  shipment  of  much  needed  cannon  to 
Ireland.  But  all  of  those  good  foreign  friends  of  the 
Irish  cause  were  sickened  and  discouraged  by  the  mis- 
erable policy  of  armistice,  so  blindly  consented  to  by  the 
lukewarm  "Marchmen  of  the  Pale"  who  had  assembled 
in  Kilkenny. 

Many  Irish  Protestants,  particularly  the  High  ChurcH 
element,  were  ardent  royalists  and  refused  to  take  the 

The  People's  History  of  Ireland  215 

oath  of  the  Covenanters  prescribed  in  Ulster  by  General 
Monroe.  They  were  driven  with  violence  from  their 
homes,  and  many  fled  for  succor  to  their  Catholic 
brethren,  who  treated  them  with  hospitable  considera- 
tion. In  Munster,  the  ferocious  Inchiquin,  and  still 
more  savage  Lord  Broghill,  son  of  Boyle,  first  Earl  of 
Cork,  foiled  in  their  ambitious  schemes  by  some  royal 
refusal,  broke  out  most  violently,  pretending  the  arm- 
istice was  violated,  and  seized  upon  three  leading  South- 
ern towns — Cork,  Kinsale,  and  Youghal,  where  their  ex- 
cesses were  too  horrible  for  narration — murder  and  arson 
being  among  the  lightest  of  their  crimes.  Ormond,  in 
his  peculiarly  adroit  way,  succeeded  in  still  further  pro- 
longing the  truce,  and  stated  that  he  had  power  from 
the  king  to  come  to  a  permanent  agreement  with  the 
Confederates.  The  cause  of  Ireland  about  this  time  lost 
a  true  and  ardent  friend  and  champion  in  the  death  of 
the  good  Pope  Urban  VIII,  who  was  succeeded  by  Inno- 
cent X — a  Pontiff  whose  noble  generosity  is  still  grate- 
fully remembered  by  the  Irish  nation.  It  was  to  one  of 
their  worthy  predecessors,  in  the  time  of  the  Elizabethan 
wars,  O'Donnell's  bard  referred,  when  addressing  Ire- 
land, in  allegorical  fashion,  he  sang : 

"O !  my  dark  Rosaleen ! 

Do  not  sigh,  do  not  weep — 
The  priests  are  on  the  ocean  green — 

They  march  along  the  deep  ! 
There's  wine  from  the  Royal  Pope, 

Upon  the  ocean  green, 
And  Spanish  ale  to  give  you  hope, 
My  dark  Rosaleen!" 

Nathless  the  truce,  those  two  bad  Irishmen,  Inchiquin 
and  Broghill,  continued  to  do  base  work  in  the  South, 

216  The  People's  History  of  Ireland 

where  their  cold-blooded  atrocities  struck  terror  into  the 
wretched  people  of  Munster.  They  even  corrupted  old 
Lord  Esmond,  commandant  of  Duncannon  fort,  which 
partly  commanded  the  important  harbor  of  Waterford 
from  the  Wexford  side.  Esmond  was  blind  and  almost 
senile,  and,  perhaps,  too,  was  terrorized  by  the  brutal 
threats  of  Inchiquin.  But  Lord  Castlehaven  and  the 
Confederate  Irish  immediately  laid  siege  to  the  place, 
and,  after  ten  weeks  of  beleaguerment,  succeeded  in  re- 
taking it.  The  traitorous  commandant  perished  in  the 
assault,  and  thus  escaped  an  ignominious  death,  which 
his  crime  had  richly  merited.  Several  other  Munster 
towns,  held  by  Inchiquin  and  his  officers,  were  success- 
si  vely  attacked  and  taken  by  the  Confederates.  In  Con- 
naught,  however,  the  latter  met  with  serious  reverses. 
The  town  of  Sligo  was  captured  by  Sir  Charles  Coote, 
Jr. — a  worse  scourge  than  even  his  infamous  father — 
and,  in  an  attempt  to  recover  it,  several  gallant  Irishmen 
perished.  Archbishop  O'Healy,  of  Tuam,-  fell  into  the 
hands  of  Coote  and  was  barbarously  tortured  to  death, 
Sunday,  October  26,  1645.  It  must  be  remembered  that 
these  hostilities  were  the  work  of  the  Parliamentary 
forces,  which  were  opposed  by  the  "Old  Irish"  party. 
The  royal  troops  had  been  sent  to  England  to  assist 
Charles,  or  else  lay  supine  in  their  garrisons,  as  did 
also  the  Anglo-Irish,  waiting  for  further  developments. 
The  king  sent  the  Earl  of  Glamorgan,  an  English 
Catholic,  who  had  intermarried  with  the  O'Brien  family, 
to  Ireland  to  negotiate  a  new  treaty  with  the  Confed- 
erates. He  succeeded  in  having  a  preliminary  document 
drawn  up,  signed  by  himself  for  Charles,  and  by  Lord 
Mountgarret  and  Muskerry  on  behalf  of  the  Confed- 

The  People's  History  of  Ireland  217 

crates.  Ormond,  with  his  customary  dilatoriness,  hag- 
gled over  the  provisions  regarding  toleration  of  the  Cath- 
olic Church  in  the  kingdom,  and  thus  frittered  away  much 
valuable  time,  which  the  Parliamentary  forces  made 
good  use  of.  Ormond  caused  the  treaty  to  be  greatly 
modified,  and  while  the  negotiators  were  working  on 
it  at  Kilkenny,  there  arrived  in  Ireland  a  new  Papal 
Nuncio,  in  the  person  of  the  famous  John  Baptist  Rinuc- 
cini,  Archbishop  of  Ferns,  and,  afterward,  Cardinal.  He 
came  to  represent  Pope  Innocent  X,  who  sent  also  sub- 
stantial aid.  The  Irish  in  exile  and  their  friends  sent, 
through  Father  Luke  Wadding,  a  further  contribution 
of  $36,000.  The  Nuncio  complained  that  he  had  been 
unreasonably  detained  in  France — it  was  greatly  sus- 
pected by  the  intrigues  of  Cardinal  Mazarin,  who  had 
succeeded  Richelieu,  Ireland's  true  friend.  In  spite  of 
this  trickery,  however,  he  managed  to  purchase,  with 
Pope  Innocent's  funds,  a  26-gun  frigate,  which  he  called 
the  San  Pietro,  2,000  muskets,  2,000  cartridge  boxes, 
4,000  swords,  2,000  pike-heads,  800  horse  pistols,  20,000 
pounds  of  powder,  and  other  much  needed  supplies. 
(McGee.)  A  ludicrous  cause  of  one  of  his  delays  in 
France  was  the  obstinacy  of  the  wife  of  Charles  I,  Hen- 
rietta Maria,  daughter  of  Henry  of  Navarre,  who  in- 
sisted that  she  would  not  receive  the  Papal  Nuncio  unless 
he  uncovered  in  her  presence.  Rinuccini  was  proud  and 
fiery,  and,  as  representing  the  Pope,  declined  to  remove 
his  biretta,  which  so  angered  the  queen  that,  after  six 
weeks'  parleying  on  this  point  of  etiquette,  the  pair  sep- 
arated without  coming  to  an  interview.  Such  is  the 
farcical  folly  of  "royal  minds." 

2i 8  The  People's  History  of  Ireland 


Treason   of   Ormond   to   the   Catholic   Cause  —  Owen   Roe   O'Neill, 
Aided  by  the  Nuncio,  Prepares  to  Fight 

Papal  Nuncio,  although  only  in  the  prime  of  life, 
•I  was  in  feeble  health,  and  had  to  be  borne  on  a  litter 
by  relays  of  able-bodied  men,  from  his  landing-place,  at 
Kenmare  in  Kerry,  to  the  city  of  Limerick,  where  he  was 
received  with  all  the  ceremony  due  to  his  high  rank,  noble 
character,  and  chivalrous  mission.  From  Limerick  he 
proceeded  by  the  same  mode  of  conveyance  to  Kilkenny, 
the  Confederate  capital,  where  honors  almost  regal  in 
their  splendor  awaited  him.  Lord  Mountgarret,  Presi- 
dent of  the  National  Council  —  a  veteran  soldier  who  had 
participated  in  the  wars  of  Hugh  O'Neill  against  Eliza- 
beth —  met  the  Papal  dignitary,  surrounded  by  a  guard 
of  honor,  composed  of  the  youthful  chivalry  of  the  Con- 
federation, in  the  picture  gallery  of  the  Castle  of  Kil- 
kenny —  the  palatial  residence  of  the  Duke  of  Ormond, 
the  most  politic  nobleman  of  the  age.  The  so-called 
Glamorgan  treaty  proceeded  smoothly  enough  until  cer- 
tain demands  of  the  exiled  English  Catholics,  made 
through  the  Nuncio,  were  included  in  its  provisions. 
Armed  with  the  amended  parchment,  Glamorgan  and  the 
representatives  of  the  Confederates  returned  to  Dublin 
and  laid  the  matter  before  Ormond.  The  latter  acted  in 
so  strange  a  manner  as  to  take  the  Confederate  delegates 
completely  by  surprise.  He  had  Glamorgan  arrested 
while  at  dinner,  on  charge  of  having  exceeded  his  instruc- 
tions, and  threw  him  into  prison.  The  Confederate  en- 

The  People's  History  of  Ireland  219 

v  jys  were  sent  back  to  Kilkenny,  charged  to  inform  the 
P-esident  and  Council  that  the  clauses  concerning  the 
English  Catholics  were  inadmissible  and  never  could  be 
entertained  by  the  English  people  who  supported  the 
cause  of  Charles.  Lord  Mountgarret  and  his  associates 
broke  off  all  negotiations  with  Ormond  pending  the  re- 
lease of  Glamorgan,  which  they  firmly  demanded.  Or- 
mond required  bail  to  the  amount  of  £40,000,  and  the 
bond  was  furnished  by  the  Earls  of  Kildare  and  Clan- 
ricarde.  When  Glamorgan  was  enlarged,  he  proceeded 
to  Kilkenny,  where,  to  the  amazement  of  the  Confed- 
erates and  the  Nuncio  he  defended,  rather  than  censured, 
Ormond's  course  toward  himself.  On  which  McGee 
grimly  remarks:  "To  most  observers  it  appeared  that 
these  noblemen  understood  each  other  only  too  well." 

Frequent  bickerings  occurred  at  Kilkenny  between 
Mountgarret's  followers,  or  the  Anglo-Irish,  and  the 
Nuncio's  followers,  the  "Old  Irish,"  who  were  in  the  mi- 
nority. Rinuccini's  heart  was  with  the  latter,  for,  by 
instinct  as  well  as  observation,  he  recognized  that  they 
were  the  only  real  national  party  among  the  Irish  fac- 
tions. The  rest  he  put  down,  with  good  reason,  as  time- 
servers  and  provincialists — ever  ready  to  go  back  to  their 
gilded  cages  the  moment  the  English  power  filled  their 
cups  with  Catholic  concessions.  With  a  little  more 
knowledge  of  Ireland  and  her  people;  the  Nuncio  would 
have  been  a  marvelous  leader.  As  it  was,  he  did  the  very 
best  he  could  for  Ireland — according  to  his  lights — and 
he  was  one  of  the  very  few  foreigners  who,  on  coming 
in  close  contact  with  the  situation — remained  true  to  the 
Irish  cause  through  good  and  evil  report.  He  was,  of 
course,  a  devoted  Catholic,  but  in  no  sense  a  bigot.  Irish- 

22,o  The  People's  History  of  Ireland 

men  should  always  hold  his  name  in  high  honor.  Any 
mistakes  the  Nuncio  committed  were  due  to  lack  of  fa- 
miliarity with  surrounding  conditions,  very  excusable  in 
an  alien. 

But  the  Glamorgan  treaty  would  appear  to  have  been 
taken  up  at  Rome,  where  Sir  Kenelm  Digby  and  the 
pontifical  ministers  concluded  a  truce  favorable  to  the  in- 
terests of  both  Irish  and  English  Catholics.  The  king 
needed  the  10,000  Irish  troops  which  he  knew  the  Con- 
federates could  place  at  his  disposal.  In  March,  1646,  a 
modified  Glamorgan  treaty  was  finally  signed  by  Ormond 
for  King  Charles,  and  by  Lord  Muskerry  and  other  Con- 
federate leaders  for  their  party.  "These  thirty  articles," 
comments  McGee,  "conceded,  in  fact,  all  the  most  essen- 
tial claims  of  the  Irish ;  they  secured  them  equal  rights  as 
to  property,  the  army,  the  universities,  and  the  bar.  They 
gave  them  seats  in  both  Houses  and  on  the  bench.  They 
authorized  a  special  commission  of  Oyer  and  Terminer, 
composed  wholly  of  Confederates.  They  declared  that 
'the  independency  of  the  Parliament  of  Ireland  on  that 
of  England'  should  be  decided  by  declaration  of  both 
Houses,  agreeably  to  the  laws  of  the  Kingdom  of  Ire- 
land. In  short,  the  final  form  of  Glamorgan's  treaty 
gave  the  Irish  Catholics,  in  1646,  all  that  was  subse- 
quently obtained,  either  for  the  Church  or  the  country, 
in  1782,  1793,  and  1829.  Though  some  conditions  were 
omitted,  to  which  the  Nuncio  and  a  majority  of  the 
prelates  attached  importance,  Glamorgan's  treaty  was, 
upon  the  whole,  a  charter  upon  which  a  free  church  and 
a  free  people  might  well  have  stood,  as  the  fundamental 
law  of  their  religious  and  civil  liberties." 

These  concessions  proved  to  be  a  new  "delusion,  mock- 

The  People's  History  of  Ireland  221 

ery,  and  snare."  Ormond  tricked  the  Confederates,  and 
the  poltroon  king,  just  before  his  fatal  flight  to  the  camp 
of  the  mercenary  Scots'  army  of  General  Lord  Leven, 
which  promptly  sold  him  to  the  English  Parliament,  for 
the  amount  of  its  back  pay,  disclaimed  the  Glamorgan 
treaty  in  toto — a  policy  entirely  in  keeping  with  his  un- 
manly, vacillating  nature. 

Owen  Roe  O'Neill,  notwithstanding  many  and  griev- 
ous vexations,  chiefly  arising  from  the  absurd  jealousy 
of  General  Preston,  had  his  army  well  in  hand  on  the 
borders  of  Leinster  and  Ulster,  prepared  to  strike  a  blow 
at  the  enemy  wherever  it  might  be  most  needed.  He  was 
in  free  communication  with  the  Nuncio,  who,  according 
to  all  the  historians  of  the  period,  supplied  him  with  the 
necessary  means  for  making  an  aggressive  movement. 
The  Anglo-Scotch  army  of  General  Monroe  presented 
the  fairest  mark  for  O'Neill's  prowess,  and  against  that 
force  his  movements  were,  accordingly,  directed. 


The  Famous  Irish  Victory  of  Benburb — Cruel  Murder  of  the  Cath- 
olic Bishop  of  Ross 

THE  forces  of  the  belligerents  were  not  large,  accord- 
ing to  our  more  modern  standards.  In  his  compre- 
hensive "History  of  Ireland,"  the  Rev.  Abbe  McGeo- 
ghegan  credits  Owen  Roe  with  only  5,000  infantry  and 
500  horse,  while  he  calls  Monroe's  force  6,000  foot  and 
800  cavalry.  The  objective  of  both  generals  was  the 
ancient  city  of  Armagh,  and  the  grand-nephew  of  the 
great  Hugh  O'Neill  was  destined  to  win  one  of  Ireland's 
proudest  victories  in  the  immediate  neighborhood  of  his 

222  The  People  s  History  of  Ireland 

grand-uncle's  most  famous  battlefield — the  Yellow  Ford. 
Marching  northward  from  the  borders  of  Leinster,  Owen 
Roe  crossed  the  historic  Blackwater  and  took  position  at 
a  place  called  Benburb,  in  the  present  county  of  Tyrone. 
Monroe  advanced  to  attack  him,  and  ordered  his  younger 
brother,  George  Monroe,  who  commanded  a  strong  de- 
tachment, to  join  forces  with  the  main  body  without  de- 
lay. O'Neill,  apprised  by  his  scouts  of  this  movement, 
sent  two  regiments,  under  Colonels  MacMahon  and  Mac- 
Nenay,  to  intercept  young  Monroe  at  a  pass  through 
which  he  would  be  compelled  to  defile  his  troops  in  order 
to  form  a  junction  with  his  brother.  The  two  colonels 
obeyed  their  orders  so  strictly  that  George  Monroe's  force 
was  so  utterly  broken  and  routed  that  it  was  unable  to 
render  any  service  to  the  Puritan  general  during  the  re- 
mainder of  the  campaign.  The  victors  immediately  re- 
joined O'Neill,  who,  in  the  interim,  had  detached  Colonel 
Ricard  O'Ferrall  to  obstruct  the  elder  Monroe's  march 
from  Kinaird  to  Caledon,  where  he  had  crossed  the  Black- 
water.  The  Scotchman's  cannon  proved  too  much  for 
O'Ferrall,  who  could  only  reply  with  musketry,  but  he 
retired  in  admirable  order,  although  closely  pressed  by 
Monroe's  stronger  vanguard.  The  battle  of  Benburb  be- 
gan on  the  morning  of  June  i6th,  new  style,  1646. 
O'Neill's  post  was  near  the  river,  his  flanks  protected  by 
two  small  hills,  and  his  rear  by  a  wood — all  held  by  chosen 
troops.  Throughout  most  of  the  day,  the  Scots,  who 
had  both  sun  and  wind  at  their  backs,  seemed  to  have  the 
advantage,  in  so  far  as  partial  demonstrations  could  de- 
termine the  question.  O'Neill,  in  expectation  of  a  rein- 
forcement from  the  direction  of  Coleraine,  "amused"  the 
Scotch  general  until  the  sun  had  shifted  position  and  no 

The  People's  History  of  Ireland  223 

longer  shone  full  and  dazzlingly  in  the  faces  of  the  Irish 
soldiers.  Almost  at  this  propitious  moment,  the  expected 
auxiliary  force  reached  the  field,  and  took  up  position  in 
O'Neill's  line  of  battle.  Rev.  C.  P.  Meehan,  historian  of 
the  "Confederation  of  Kilkenny,"  who  quotes  Monroe's 
despatch,  Rinuccini's  letters,  and  other  contemporaneous 
authorities,  says :  "It  was  the  decisive  moment.  The 
Irish  general,  throwing  himself  into  the  midst  of  his  men, 
and,  pointing  out  to  them  that  retreat  must  be  fatal  to 
the  enemy,  ordered  them  to  charge  and  pursue  vigor- 
ously. A  far  resounding  cheer  rose  from  the  Irish 
ranks.  'Myself,'  said  he,  'with  the  aid  of  Heaven, 
will  lead  the  way.  Let  those  who  fail  to  follow  me  re- 
member that  they  abandon  their  general.'  This  address 
was  received  with  one  unanimous  shout  by  the  army. 
The  Irish  colonels  threw  themselves  from  their  horses,  to 
cut  themselves  off  from  every  chance  of  retreat,  and 
charged  with  incredible  impetuosity."  Some  musketry 
was  used,  but  the  victory  was  decided  in  Ireland's  favor 
by  her  ancient  and  favorite  weapon,  the  deadly  pike, 
which  may  be  called  the  parent  of  the  bayonet.  Mon- 
roe's cavalry  charged  boldly  that  bristling  front  of  spears, 
but  was  overthrown  in  an  instant  and  all  but  annihilated. 
Vain,  then,  became  the  fire  of  the  vaunted  cannon  of  the 
Scotch  commander  and  the  crashing  volleys  of  his  small 
arms.  Vainly  he  himself  and  his  chosen  officers,  sword 
in  hand,  set  an  example  of  courage  to  their  men.  With 
the  shout  of  "Lamh  Dearg  Aboo !"  which,  fifty  years  be- 
fore, had  sounded  the  death-knell  of  Bagnal,  Kildare, 
and  De  Burgh,  on  the  banks  of  the  same  historic  river, 
the  Irish  clansmen  rushed  upon  their  foes.  The  strug- 
gle was  brief  and  bitter.  Lord  Blaney's  English  regi- 

224  The  People's  History  of  Ireland 

ment  perished  almost  to  the  last  man,  fighting  heroically 
to  the  end.  The  Scottish  cavalry  was  utterly  broken  and 
fled  pell-mell,  leaving  the  infantry  to  their  fate.  'Lord 
Montgomery's  regiment  alone  retired  in  good  order,  al- 
though with  considerable  loss,  but  Montgomery  himself, 
fifty  other  officers,  and  some  two  hundred  soldiers,  were 
made  prisoners.  Monroe  fled,  without  hat  or  wig,  and 
tradition  says  he  lost  his  sword  in  swimming  his  horse 
across  the  Blackwater.  Of  the  Anglo-Scotch  army,  there 
died  upon  the  field  3,243  officers  and  men,  and  many 
more  perished  during  the  vengeful  pursuit  of  the  victors, 
who  do  not  appear  to  have  been  in  a  forgiving  mood. 
O'Neill  acknowledged  a  loss  of  seventy  men  killed  and 
several  hundred  wounded.  The  Scottish  army  lost  all 
of  its  baggage,  tents,  cannon,  small  arms,  military  chest, 
and,  besides,  thirty-two  stand  of  battle-flags.  Fifteen 
hundred  draught  horses  and  enough  food  supplies  to  last 
the  Irish  army  for  many  months  also  fell  into  the  hands 
of  the  vanquishers.  Monroe's  army  was,  virtually,  de- 
stroyed, and  he  sullied  a  previously  honorable  record  by 
plundering  and  burning  many  villages  and  isolated  houses 
to  gratify  his  spite  against  the  people  whose  soldiers  had 
so  grievously  humiliated  him. 

O'Neill's  fine  military  instinct  impelled  him  to  follow 
up  his  success  by  giving  Monroe  no  rest  until  he  had 
driven  him  from  Ulster,  but,  unfortunately,  there  came 
at  this  crisis  a  request,  which  really  meant  an  order,  from 
the  Nuncio,  to  march  the  Ulster  army  into  Leinster  in 
order  that  it  might  support  those  who  were  opposed  in 
the  Council  at  Kilkenny  to  entering  into  further  peace 
negotiations  with  the  bigoted  Ormond  and  the  now  im- 
potent king.  O'Neill  could  hardly  decline  this  misdi- 

The  People's  History   of  Ireland  225 

reeled  mission,  but  it  proved  to  be,  in  the  end,  a  fatal 
act  of  obedience.  From  that  hour  the  Irish  cause  began 
to  decline.  General  Preston,  O'Neill's  fierce  Anglo-Irish 
rival,  and  fanatically  devoted  to  the  cause  of  Charles,  en- 
gaged in  battle  with  the  Parliamentary  general,  Michael 
Jones,  at  Dungan  Hill  in  Meath,  and  was  totally  routed, 
with  immense  loss.  It  is  only  proper  to  remark  here, 
that  the  "Old"  Irish  did  the  best  fighting  during  this  war, 
because  their  hearts  were  in  the  struggle,  while  the 
Anglo-Irish,  who  mainly  composed  the  armies  under 
Preston  and  Lord  Taaffe — the  latter  of  whom  was  igno- 
miniously  defeated  at  Knockinoss,  near  Mallow  in  Cork 
— were  only  half-hearted  in  their  efforts.  Taaffe's  de- 
feat was  aggravated  by  the  cruel  murder  of  the  brave 
"Left-handed"  MacDonnell  of  Antrim,  who,  after  having 
been  made  prisoner,  was  barbarously  put  to  death  by 
order  of  the  murderous  renegade,  "Murrough  the 
Burner,"  who  commanded  the  victors.  This  bloody- 
minded  wretch  further  signalized  his  cruelty  by  storming 
the  city  of  Cashel  and  sacking  the  grand  cathedral, 
founded  by  one  of  his  own  princely  ancestors,  in  the 
twelfth  century.  Hundreds  of  non-combatants  of  all  ages 
and  both  sexes,  who  had  taken  refuge  in  the  holy  place, 
were  ruthlessly  massacred,  and  twenty  priests  were 
dragged  from  under  the  high  altar  and  wantonly  butch- 
ered. Lord  Broghill  emphasized  his  brutality  in  Cork 
County  by  hanging  before  the  walls  of  Macroom  Castle 
the  saintly  Bishop  MacEagan  of  Ross,  who  refused  to 
counsel  the  Irish  garrison  to  surrender.  Dr.  Madden,  a 
gifted  poet,  summed  up  the  noble  refusal  and  its  tragical 
consequences  in  the  following  lines : 

226  The  People's  History  of  Ireland 

"The  orders  are  given,  the  prisoner  is  led 

To  the  castle,  and  round  him  are  menacing  hordes : 
Undaunted,  approaching  the  walls,  at  the  head 
Of  the  troopers  of  Cromwell,  he  utters  these  words: 

"  'Beware  of  the  cockatrice — trust  not  the  wiles 

Of  the  serpent,  for  perfidy  skulks  in  its  folds ! 

Beware  of  Lord  Broghill  the  day  that  he  smiles! 

His  mercy  is  murder ! — his  word  never  holds ! 

"  'Remember,  'tis  writ  in  our  annals  of  blood, 
Our  countrymen  never  relied  on  the  faith 
Of  truce,  or  of  treaty,  but  treason  ensued — 
And  the  issue  of  every  delusion  was  death!' 

*He  died  on  the  scaffold  in  front  of  those  walls, 
Where  the  blackness  of  ruin  is  seen  from  afar, 

And  the  gloom  of  their  desolate  aspect  recalls 
The  blackest  of  Broghill's  achievements  in  war." 


Ormond's   Treacherous  -Surrender   of  Dublin — Ireland's   Choice  of 

Two   Evils 

ORMOND  would  seem  to  have  been  the  evil  genius 
of  the  Irish  nation  at  this  period  of  its  history. 
He  was  suspected  by  the  Confederates  and  distrusted  by 
the  Parliamentarians.  The  former,  convinced  that  he 
meant  to  betray  Dublin,  which  was  poorly  fortified,  to 
the  latter,  ordered  O'Neill  and  Preston  to  unite  their 
forces  and  take  it  from  Ormond.  Preston,  who  was,  to 
all  appearance,  more  of  a  royalist  Palesman  than  an 
Irishman,  threw  obstacles  in  the  way  of  the  intended 
assault,  and  proposed  to  parley  with  Ormond  before 
assuming  the  aggressive.  Owing  to  this  dilatoriness, 
and  because  of  a  false  alarm,  the  combined  Irish  forces 
retired  from  before  the  city  without  accomplishing  any- 

The  People's  History  of  Ireland  227 

thing.  There  was  mutual  distrust  between  the  unwilling 
allies,  and,  as  usual,  Ireland  was  the  sufferer.  Preston's 
jealousy  of  O'Neill  amounted  to  a  frenzy,  and,  before 
an  accommodation  could  be  arrived  at,  Ormond  surren- 
dered the  city  to  the  Parliamentary  forces,  under  Gen- 
eral Jones,  and  fled  to  France,  where,  unaccountably, 
considering  his  suspicious  conduct,  he  was  favorably  re- 
ceived. After  a  year's  absence,  he  returned  to  Ireland, 
and,  finding  the  royal  cause  desperate,  concluded  a  peace 
between  the  king's  supporters,  the  Confederates,  and  the 
National  party,  headed  by  Owen  O'Neill.  This  treaty  was, 
virtually,  a  revival  of  that  submitted  by  Glamorgan,  and 
fully  recognized,  when  all  too  late,  the  justice  of  the 
Catholic  claims  to  liberty  of  conscience.  Had  the  original 
instrument  been  adopted,  Charles  could  have  held  Ireland 
against  the  Parliament.  But  his  days  were  now  num- 
bered, and  he  died  on  the  scaffold,  in  front  of  his  own 
palace  of  Whitehall,  on  January  30,  1649. 

The  Royalist  party  at  once  recognized  his  heir  as 
Charles  II.  They  were  reinforced  by  many  Parliamenta- 
rian Protestants  who  were  shocked  and  horrified  by  the 
decapitation  of  the  king;  and  so  Old  Irish  and  New 
Irish,  Confederates  and  Ormondists,  made  common  cause 
against  the  Parliament,  which  was  defended  in  Dublin  by 
the  redoubtable  General  Jones,  and  in  Derry  by  the  fero- 
cious younger  Coote.  Even  the  sanguinary  Inchiquiri  again 
became  a  Royalist  and  captured  several  towns  of  strength 
and  importance  from  his  recent  allies.  Ormond  massed 
his  army  and,  aided  by  Major-General  Purcell,  made  an 
attempt  to  storm  Dublin.  But  Michael  Jones  made  a 
night  sortie  from  the  city  and  scattered  Ormond  and 
Purcell  and  their  followers  to  the  winds  of  heaven.  The 

228  The  People's  History  of  Ireland 

Irish  generals  mutually  blamed  each  other  and  there  was 
much  bitter  crimination  and  recrimination,  but  all  this 
could  not  remedy  the  disaster  that  incapacity  and  over- 
confidence  had  brought  about.  Owen  O'Neill  kept  his 
army,  which  fronted  Coote,  near  Derry,  intact,  but  lost 
his  best  friend  when  the  impetuous  Nuncio,  who  had 
spared  neither  denunciation  nor  excommunication  in  deal- 
ing with  the  trimming  Anglo-Catholic  leaders,  disgusted 
with  the  whole  wretched  business,  suddenly  departed  for 
the  port  of  Galway  and  sailed  in  his  own  ship  for  Rome. 
Had  this  good  man  had  to  deal  with  leaders  like  Owen 
O'Neill,  faithful,  sensible,  and  unselfish,  Ireland  would 
have  been  an  independent  nation  ere  he  returned  to  the 
Eternal  City.  His  retirement  placed  O'Neill  and  the 
"Old  Irish"  in  great  perplexity  as  regarded  a  military 
policy.  Ormond,  the  treacherous,  was,  nominally  at 
least,  commander-in-chief  of  the  royal  army,  and  his 
trusted  lieutenants,  Preston  and  Inchiquin,  were  O'Neill's 
bitter  foes. 

Under  such  disadvantages,  we  are  not  surprised  to 
learn  that  O'Neill  adopted  a  policy  of  his  own,  at  once 
bold  and  original.  He  temporized  with  the  Parliamen- 
tarians, and  actually  entered  into  a  three  months'  truce 
with  General  George  Monck,  who  had  succeeded  to  the 
unlucky  Monroe's  command  in  the  North.  The  dis- 
trust and  hatred  of  Ormond,  whose  military  power 
waned  immediately  after  his  crushing  defeat  by  Gen- 
eral Jones,  already  mentioned,  were  so  great  that  both 
Galway  and  Limerick  refused  to  admit  his  garrisons. 
He  and  his  wretched  ally,  Inchiquin,  became  utterly 
discredited  with  the  Old  Irish  party,  and  soon  fled 
the  kingdom  their  infamies  had  cursed.  Ormond  re- 

The   People's   History  of  Ireland  229 

turned  to  England  after  the  Restoration  and  was  one  of 
Charles  II's  intimates.  It  can  hardly  be  wondered  at, 
therefore,  that,  to  use  McGee's  language,  "the  singular 
spectacle  was  exhibited  of  Monck  forwarding  supplies 
to  O'Neill  to  be  used  against  Ormond  and  Inchiquin, 
and  O'Neill  coming  to  the  rescue  of  Coote  and  raising 
for  him  the  siege  of  Derry."  It  was  unfortunate  that 
all  of  the  Parliamentary  generals  were  not  possessed  of 
the  chivalric  qualities  of  Monck  and  that  hard  fortune 
again  compelled  Owen  Roe  to  draw  the  sword  for  the 
cause  of  the  ingrate  Stuarts.  As  for  the  Anglo-Irish, 
whether  of  the  Church  of  Rome  or  the  Church  of  Eng- 
land, they  clung  to  the  fortunes,  or  rather  the  misfor- 
tunes, of  Charles  II  as  faithfully  and  vehemently  as  to 
those  of  his  infatuated  father.  This  was  all  the  more 
noteworthy,  as  the  younger  Charles  had  even  less  to 
recommend  him  to  public  estimation  than  his  sire.  He 
lived  to  be  a  disgrace  to  even  the  throne  of  England, 
which  has  been  filled  too  often  by  monarchs  of  degraded 
and  dissolute  character.  The  second  Charles  of  England 
was  destitute  of  every  virtue,  except  physical  courage. 
He  had,  in  a  high  degree,  that  superficial  good  nature 
which  distinguished  his  race,  but  he  was  a  libertine,  an 
ingrate,  and  a  despicable  time-server.  But  Ireland  did 
not  learn  these  truths  about  his  character  until  long  after 
the  period  of  his  checkered  career  here  dealt  with.  It 
must  be  borne  in  mind,  however,  that  in  the  middle  of 
the  seventeenth  century  the  divinity  which  is  alleged  to 
hedge  a  king  was  much  more  apparent  to  the  masses  of 
the  people  than  it  is  in  our  own  generation,  when  the 
microscopic  eye  of  an  educated  public  opinion  is  turned 
upon  the  throne  and  detects  the  slightest  flaw,  in  the 

230  The  People's   History  of  Ireland 

"fierce  light"  which  beats  upon  it.  The  Old  Irish  party 
cared  little  for  Charles,  but  when  it  came  to  a  choice 
between  him  and  Cromwell,  there  was  nothing  left  them 
but  to  throw  their  swords  into  the  scale  for  the  youthful 
monarch,  who  was  not  nearly  as  "merry"  then  as  he 
became  in  after  days,  when  he  quite  forgot  the  friends 
of  his  adversity. 


"The  Curse  of  Cromwell" — Massacres  of  Drogheda  and  Wexford 
—Death   of   Sir   Phelim   O'Neill 

THEIR  adherence  to  the  cause  of  the  young  Stuart 
brought  upon  the  Irish  nation  the  blighting  "curse 
of  Cromwell,"  so  terribly  remembered  down  to  the  pres- 
ent hour  in  every  nook  of  Ireland  visited  by  his  formi- 
dable and  remorseless  legions.  The  English  Parliament 
well  knew  that  a  general  of  the  first  class  was  needed  to 
crush  the  Irish  army  in  field  and  fort,  and  so  Oliver 
Cromwell,  commander  of  the  famous  "Ironsides,"  or 
Parliamentary  cuirassiers,  the  greatest  and  most  relent- 
less soldier  of  that  age,  was  sent  to  Ireland,  commissioned 
to  work  his  will  upon  her.  He  landed  in  Dublin  with  an 
army  of  4,000  cavalry  and  9,000  infantry,  augmented  by 
the  forces  already  in  the  island,  on  August  14,  1649. 
Plentifully  supplied  with  money  and  military  stores,  he 
at  once  made  ready  for  a  vigorous  campaign.  His  sec- 
ond in  command  was  General  Ireton,  a  son-in-law  and 
pupil,  who  is  remembered  in  Ireland  only  a  degree  less 
bitterly  than  the  great  regicide  himself.  The  latter 
marched  his  formidable  army,  after  a  very  brief  rest, 
from  Dublin  to  Drogheda,  which  was  held  for  Charles 
II  by  a  garrison  of  about  3,000  men,  burdened  with  many 

The  People's  History  of  Ireland  231 

helpless  non-combatants,  under  the  orders  of  Sir  Arthur 
Aston,  a  brave  and  experienced  officer,  who  had  suffered 
the  loss  of  a  leg  in  the  Continental  wars.  He  spurned 
Cromwell's  insolent  summons  to  surrender,  and  success- 
fully repulsed  two  furious  assaults,  led  by  the  English 
general  in  person.  A  third  attack,  made  September  10, 
1649,  was  successful.  General  Aston  fell,  and  the  Puri- 
tan soldiers  quarreled  over  his  artificial  leg,  which  was 
said  to  be  made  of  gold.  Examination  proved  it  to  be 
of  wood — a  much  less  costly  and  tempting  material.  The 
garrison,  seeing  their  leader  fall,  laid  down  their  arms, 
believing  that  quarter  would  be  extended.  But  Crom- 
well, by  his  own  admission  (see  his  letters  compiled  by 
Thomas  Carlyle),  refused  this  accommodation,  on  the 
flimsy  pretext  that  Drogheda  did  not,  at  once,  surrender 
on  summons;  and  the  Puritan  army  was  let  loose  upon 
the  doomed  city.  For  five  dreadful  days  and  nights 
there  ensued  a  carnival  of  rapine  and  slaughter.  The 
affrighted  people  fled  to  cellars,  many  sought  refuge  in 
churches,  and  some  climbed  even  to  the  belfries  in  the 
vain  hope  of  escaping  the  general  massacre.  But  they 
were  relentlessly  pursued,  sabred,  suffocated,  or  burned 
to  death  in  the  places  in  which  they  hoped  to  obtain  shel- 
ter. The  few  miserable  survivors — less  than  one  hun- 
dred— were  spared,  only  to  be  shipped  as  slaves  to  the 
Barbadoes.  (See  Cromwell's  Letters,  per  Carlyle.) 
Cromwell,  in  his  despatch  to  the  speaker  of  the  English 
Parliament,  called  this  brutal  achievement  "an  exceed- 
ing great  mercy,"  and,  blasphemously,  gave  all  the  praise 
of  the  universal  slaughter  to  the  most  High  God !  There 
is  absolutely  no  excuse  for  the  regicide's  outrageous  con- 
duct at  Drogheda,  although  Froude,  Carlyle,  and  other 

Ireland— n  Vol.  U 

232  The  People's  History  of  Ireland 

British  historians  have  vainly  sought  to  make  apology 
for  his  inhuman  actions.  Many  of  the  garrison  were 
English  and  Protestant,  so  that  race  and  creed  did  not 
entirely  influence  him,  as  the  same  considerations  un- 
doubtedly did  at  other  places  in  Ireland.  His  cold- 
blooded idea  was  to  "strike  terror"  into  Ireland  at  the 
outset  of  the  campaign;  and  in  this  he  certainly  suc- 
ceeded only  too  well.  It  made  his  subsequent  task  of 
subjugation  much  easier  than  it  would,  otherwise,  have 
been.  Having  accomplished  his  work  in  the  fated  city, 
and  left  it  a  smoking  ruin,  he  counter-marched  to  Dublin, 
rested  there  for  some  days,  and  then  marched  toward 
Wexford,  capturing  several  small  towns,  which  offered 
but  feeble  resistance,  on  his  way.  His  lieutenants  had, 
meanwhile,  added  Dundalk,  Carlingford,  and  Newry  to 
his  conquests  in  the  North.  Wexford  prepared  for  a 
brave  defence,  but  was  basely  betrayed  by  Captain  James 
Stafford,  an  officer  of  English  ancestry,  who  surrendered 
the  outer  defences,  without  the  knowledge  of  his  chief, 
Colonel  David  Sennott.  Quarter  was  refused,  as  at 
Drogheda,  and  three  hundred  maids  and  matrons,  many 
of  the  latter  with  infants  in  their  arms,  who  fled  to  the 
market  square,  and  took  refuge,  as  they  thought,  under 
the  sacred  shadow  of  the  gigantic  cross  which  stood 
there,  were  butchered,  notwithstanding  their  pleadings 
for  mercy.  Nearly  all  of  these  people  were  Catholic  in 
creed,  if  not  all  of  Celtic  race,  so  that  Cromwell  mani- 
fested what  may  be  called  an  impartial  spirit  of  cruelty 
on  both  bloody  occasions.  His  hatred  for  the  English 
Protestant  royalists  was  as  hot,  to  all  appearance,  as  that 
which  he  entertained  toward  the  Irish  Catholics,  who  had 
embraced  the  Stuart  cause.  But  his  remorseless  policy 

The  People's  History  of  Ireland  233 

of  general  confiscation  of  the  lands  of  the  vanquished, 
and  the  sending  into  banishment,  as  veritable  slaves,  of 
the  unhappy  survivors,  have  left  a  deeper  scar  on  the 
heart  of  Ireland  than  all  the  blood  he  so  cruelly,  and  need- 
lessly, shed  on  her  soil. 

The  tidings  from  Drogheda  and  Wexford  soon  spread 
throughout  the  country,  and  the  faint-hearted  governors 
of  many  strong  towns  surrendered  without  attempting 
to  make  an  honorable  defence.  Kilkenny  proved  an  ex- 
ception. There  a  brave  stand  was  made,  and  garrison 
and  inhabitants  received  favorable  terms  of  surrender. 
But  Cromwell's  most  difficult  task  was  in  front  of  "rare 
Clonmel,"  in  Tipperary,  which  was  garrisoned  by  a  few 
regiments  of  the  aboriginal  Ulster  Irish — among  the  brav- 
est men  that  ever  trod  a  battlefield  or  manned  a  breach — 
under  the  command  of  Major-General  Hugh  Duff( Black) 
O'Neill,  nephew  and  pupil  of  the  glorious  Owen  Roe. 
This  brave  and  skilful  officer  repulsed,  with  much  car- 
nage, several  of  Cromwell's  fiercest  assaults,  and  the  siege 
would,  undoubtedly,  been  raised  only  for  failure  of 
ammunition  in  the  Irish  army.  O'Neill,  having  satisfied 
himself  that  this  was  the  unfortunate  fact,  evacuated  the 
city  on  a  dark  midnight  of  May,  1649,  and  retreated  to 
Limerick.  Cromwell,  ignorant  of  this  movement,  de- 
manded the  surrender  of  Clonmel  next  morning.  Favor- 
able terms  were  requested  and  granted.  There  was  no 
massacre,  and  Cromwell's  sardonic  nature  made  him 
rather  enjoy  the  masterly  trick  played  upon  him  by  young 
O'Neill.  Some  years  afterward,  when  the  latter,  after 
a  most  noble  defence  of  Limerick,  fell  into  the  hands  of 
Ireton  and  was  condemned  to  death,  we  are  informed 
that  Cromwell,  then  virtually  Lord  Protector,  caused  his 

134  The   People's  History  of  Ireland 

sentence  to  be  commuted  and  allowed  him  to  return  to 
the  Continent.  Such  is  the  effect  true  courage  produces 
on  even  the  most  brutal  natures. 

Owen  Roe  O'Neill,  who,  of  all  the  Irish  generals,  was 
alone  fitted,  both  by  nature  and  experience,  to  combat 
the  able  Cromwell,  died  soon  after  that  tyrant's  arrival 
in  Ireland,  as  some  say  by  poison.  He  was  on  the  march 
to  attack  the  English  army,  when  he  surrendered  to  death 
at  Clough  Oughter  Castle,  in  Cavan,  bitterly  mourned  by 
all  who  had  dreamed  of  an  independent  Ireland.  How 
beautifully  Thomas  Davis  laments  him : 

"We  thought  you  would  not  die — we  were  sure  you  would  not  go, 
And  leave  us  in  our  utmost  need  to  Cromwell's  cruel  blow! 
Sheep  without  a  shepherd,  when  the  snow  shots  out  the  sky, 
Oh,  why  did  you  leave  us,  Owen,  why  did  you  die? 

"Soft  as  woman's  was  your  voice,  O'Neill !  bright  was  your  eye, 
O!  why  did  you  leave  us,  Owen?  why  did  you  die? 
Your  troubles  are  all  over,  you're  at  rest  with  God  on  high; 
But  we're  slaves  and  we're  orphans,  Owen!  why  did  you  die?" 

Immediately  after  the  capitulation  of  Clonmel,  Crom- 
well, summoned  by  Parliament  to  operate  against  the 
royalists  of  Scotland,  set  sail  for  England,  leaving  behind 
him  Ireton  and  Ludlow  to  continue  his  bloody  work.  By 
Oliver's  direction,  confiscation  followed  confiscation,  and, 
when  he  became  Protector  of  the  English  Commonwealth, 
many  thousands  of  innocent  boys  and  girls  were  shipped 
from  Ireland  to  the  West  Indies  and  other  colonies  of 
England,  where  most  of  them  perished  miserably.  Ire- 
ton  died  in  Limerick,  which  yielded  to  his  arms,  after  a 
desperate  resistance,  in  1651.  Tradition  says  that  he 
rotted  from  the  plague,  and  that  his  last  hours  were  hor- 
rible to  himself  and  to  all  who  surrounded  his  repulsive 
deathbed.  He  had  caused  to  be  killed  in  the  city  a 

The  People's  History  of  Ireland  235 

bishop,  many  priests,  and  a  multitude  of  other  non-com- 
batants; and  these  atrocities  appalled  his  craven  soul  at 
the  moment  of  dissolution.  Ludlow,  an  equally  fero- 
cious soldier,  concluded  the  work  of  conquest  in  Ireland, 
and,  in  1652,  the  whole  island  was  again  rendered  "tran- 
quil." "Order  reigned  in  Warsaw,"  but  it  was  not  the 
order  that  succeeds  dissolution.  Ireland,  as  subsequent 
events  proved,  was  not  dead,  but  sleeping.  The  close  of 
"the  great  rebellion,"  which  had  lasted  eleven  years,  was 
signalized  by  the  ruthless  executions  of  Bishop  Heber 
MacMahon — the  warrior  prelate  who  led  Owen  Roe's 
army  after  that  hero's  death — and  Sir  Phelim  O'Neill, 
who  was  offered  his  life  on  the  steps  of  the  scaffold,  if 
he  consented  to  implicate  the  late  King  Charles  I  in  the 
promotion  of  the  Irish  revolt.  This,  the  English  his- 
torians inform  us,  he  "stoutly  refused  to  do,"  and  died, 
in  consequence,  like  a  soldier  and  a  gentleman.  He  had 
his  faults — this  fierce  Sir  Phelim.  He  was  by  no  means 
a  saint,  or  even  an  exemplary  Christian — but  he  acted, 
"according  to  his  lights,"  for  the  best  interests  of  his 
native  country,  and  lost  everything,  including  life,  in 
striving  to  make  her  free.  A  gifted  Irish  poet  (T.  D. 
McGee)  sings  of  him  as  "In  Felix  Felix,"  thus : 

"He  rose  the  first — he  looms  the  morning  star 
Of  that  long,  glorious  unsuccessful  war; 
England  abhors  him !  has  she  not  abhorr'd 
All  who  for  Ireland  ventured  life  or  word? 
What  memory  would  she  not  have  cast  away 
That  Ireland  keeps  in  her  heart's  heart  to-day? 

"If  even  his  hand  and  hilt  were  so  distained, 
If  he  was  guilty  as  he  has  been  blamed, 
His  death  redeemed  his  life — he  chose  to  die 
Rather  than  get  his  freedom  with  a  lie. 
Plant  o'er  his  gallant  heart  a  laurel  tree, 
So  may  his  head  within  the   shadow  be! 

236  The  People's  History  of  Ireland 

"I  mourn  for  thee,  O  hero  of  the  North — 
God  judge  thee  gentler  than  we  do  on  earth! 
I  mourn  for  thee  and  for  our  land,  because 
She  dare  not  own  the  martyrs  in  her  cause; 
But  they,  our  poets,  they  who  justify — 
They  will  not  let  thy  memory  rot  or  die!" 


Sad   Fate   of  the   Vanquished — Cruel    Executions   and   Wholesale 

HP  HE  subsequent  fate  of  other  chief  actors  in  this  great 
•••  political  and  military  drama  is  summed  up  by  a 
learned  historian  thus :  "Mountgarret  and  Bishop  Rothe 
died  before  Galway  (the  last  Irish  stronghold  of  this  war) 
fell.  Bishop  MacMahon,  of  Clogher,  surrendered  to  Sir 
Charles  Coote,  and  was  executed  like  a  felon  by  one  he  had 
saved  from  destruction  a  year  before  at  Derry.  Coote,  after 
the  Restoration,  became  Earl  of  Mountrath,  and  Broghill, 
Earl  of  Orrery.  Clanricarde  died  unnoticed  on  his  English 
estate,  under  the  Protectorate.  Inchiquin,  after  many 
adventures  in  foreign  lands,  turned  Catholic  in  his  old 
age;  and  this  burner  of  churches  bequeathed  an  annual 
alms  for  masses  for  his  soul.  A  Roman  patrician  did 
the  honors  of  sepulture  for  Father  Luke  Wadding.  Hugh 
Duff  O'Neill,  the  heroic  defender  of  Clonmel  and  Lim- 
erick, and  the  gallant  though  vacillating  Preston,  were 
cordially  received  in  France,  while  the  consistent  (En- 
glish) Republican,  General  Ludlow,  took  refuge  as  a 
fugitive  (after  the  Restoration)  in  Switzerland. 

The  same  accomplished  authority  (T.  D.  McGee)  in- 
forms us  that  under  Oliver  Cromwell's  Protectorate,  "A 
new  survey  of  the  whole  island  was  ordered,  under  the 
direction  of  Sir  William  Petty,  the  fortunate  economist 

The  People's  History  of  Ireland  237 

who  founded  the  House  of  Lansdowne.  By  him  the  sur- 
face of  the  kingdom  was  estimated  at  ten  and  a  half 
million  plantation  acres,  three  millions  of  which  were 
deducted  for  waste  and  water.  Of  the  remainder,  above 
5,000,000  acres  were  in  Catholic  hands  in  1641 ;  300,000 
acres  were  college  lands,  and  2,000,000  acres  were  in 
possession  of  the  Protestant  settlers  of  the  reigns  of 
James  I  and  Elizabeth.  Under  the  Cromwellian  Pro- 
tectorate, 5,000,000  acres  were  confiscated.  This  enor- 
mous spoil,  two-thirds  of  the  whole  island  (as  then  com- 
puted), went  to  the  soldiers  and  adventurers  who  had 
served  against  the  Irish  or  had  contributed  to  the  mili- 
tary chest  since  1641 — except  700,000  acres  given  in 
'exchange'  to  the  banished  in  Clare  and  Connaught,  and 
1,200,000  confirmed  to  'innocent  Papists'  who  had 
taken  no  part  in  the  warfare  for  their  country's  liberty. 
And,"  continues  our  authority  already  quoted,  "Cromwell 
anticipated  the  union  of  the  kingdoms  by  a  hundred  and 
fifty  years,  when  he  summoned,  in  1653,  tnat  assembly 
over  which  'Praise-God  Bare-bones'  presided.  Members 
for  Ireland  and  Scotland  sat  on  the  same  benches  with 
the  Commons  of  England.  Oliver's  first  deputy  in  the 
government  of  Ireland  was  his  son-in-law,  Fleetwood, 
who  had  married  the  widow  of  Ireton,  but  his  real  rep- 
resentative was  his  fourth  son,  Henry  Cromwell,  com- 
mander-in-chief  of  the  army.  In  1657,  the  title  of  Lord 
Deputy  was  transferred  from  Fleetwood  to  Henry,  who 
united  the  supreme  civil  and  military  authority  in  his 
own  person,  until  the  eve  of  the  Restoration,  of  which 
he  became  an  active  partisan.  We  may  thus  embrace 
the  five  years  of  the  Protectorate  as  the  period  of  Henry 
Cromwell's  administration."  High  Courts  of  Justice 

238  The  People's  History  of  Ireland 

were  appointed  for  dealing  with  those  who  had  been 
actively  in  arms,  and  many  cruel  executions  resulted. 
Commissions  were  also  appointed  for  the  expatriation 
of  the  people,  particularly  the  young.  "Children  under 
age,  of  both  sexes,  were  captured  by  the  thousands,  and 
sold  as  slaves  to  the  tobacco  planters  of  Virginia  and 
the  West  Indies.  Secretary  Thurloe  informs  Henry  Crom- 
well that  'the  Council  have  authorized  1,000  girls,  and 
as  many  youths,  to  be  taken  up  for  that  purpose.'  Sir 
William  Petty  mentions  6,000  Irish  boys  and  girls  shipped 
to  the  West  Indies.  Some  contemporary  accounts  make 
the  total  number  of  children  and  adults,  so  transported, 
100,000  souls.  To  this  decimation  we  may  add  34,000 
men  of  fighting  age,  who  had  permission  to  enter  the 
armies  of  foreign  powers  at  peace  with  the  Common- 

As  there  was  no  Irish  Parliament  called  under  Crom- 
well's regime,  the  "government"  of  Ireland  consisted, 
during  that  period,  of  the  deputy,  the  commander-in- 
chief,  and  four  commissioners — the  Puritan  leaders, 
Ludlow,  Corbett,  Jones,  and  Weaver — all  of  whom 
looked  upon  the  Celtic-Catholic  Irish,  and,  in  fact,  all 
classes  of  the  Irish  people,  with  bigoted  hatred  and  in- 
solent disdain.  And  these  men  had,  until  the  Restora- 
tion, absolute  dominion  over  the  lives  and  liberty,  the 
rights  and  properties  of  the  nation  they  hated! 

The  Act  of  Uniformity,  which  played  such  a  terrible 
part  in  the  reigns  of  Elizabeth  and  James,  was  put  into 
relentless  force.  The  Catholics  were  crushed,  as  it  were, 
into  the  earth,  and  Ireland  again  became  a  veritable 
counterpart  of  the  infernal  regions.  Priests,  of  all  ranks, 
were  hunted  like  wild  beasts,  and  many  fell  victims  to 

The  People's  History  of  Ireland  239 

their  heroic  devotion  to  their  flocks.  Catholic  lawyers 
were  rigidly  disbarred  and  Catholic  school-teachers  were 
subjected  to  deadly  penalties.  "Three  bishops  and  three 
hundred  ecclesiastics"  perished  violently  during  the  Pro- 
tectorate. "Under  the  superintendence  of  tke  commis- 
sioners," says  McGee,  "the  distribution  made  of  the  soil 
among  the  Puritans  'was  nearly  as  complete  as  that  of 
Canaan  by  the  Israelites.'  Such  Irish  gentlemen  as  had 
obtained  pardons  were  obliged  to  wear  a  distinctive  mark 
on  their  dress  under  pain  of  death.  Those  of  inferior 
rank  were  obliged  to  wear  a  round  black  spot  on  the 
right  cheek,  under  pain  of  the  branding  iron  and  the 
gallows.  If  a  Puritan  lost  his  life  in  any  district  inhab- 
ited by  Catholics,  the  whole  population  were  held  sul> 
ject  to  military  execution.  For  the  rest,  whenever  'Tory' 
(nickname  for  an  Irish  royalist)  or  recusant  fell  into 
the  hands  of  these  military  colonists,  or  the  garrisons 
which  knitted  them  together,  they  were  assailed  with  the 
war-cry  of  the  Jews — 'That  thy  feet  may  be  dipped  in 
the  blood  of  thy  enemies,  and  that  the  tongues  of  thy 
dogs  may  be  red  with  the  same.'  Thus,  penned  in  (ac- 
cording to  the  Cromwellian  penal  regulation)  between 
'the  mile  line'  of  the  Shannon  and  the  'four-mile  line' 
of  the  sea,  the  remnant  of  the  Irish  nation  passed  seven 
years  of  a  bondage  unequaled  in  severity  by  anything 
which  can  be  found  in  the  annals  of  Christendom." 

When  the  news  of  Oliver  Cromwell's  death,  which 
occurred  on  September  3,  1658,  reached  Ireland,  a  sigh 
of  intense  relief  was  heaved  by  the  persecuted  nation. 
Many  a  prayer  of  thankfulness  went  up  to  the  throne  of 
God  from  outraged  Irish  fathers  and  mothers,  whose 
children  were  sweltering  as  slaves  under  tropical  suns. 

240  The  People's  History  of  Ireland 

Cromwell  himself  had  passed  away,  but  the  "curse  of 
Cromwell"  remained  with  Ireland  for  many  a  black  and 
bitter  day  thereafter. 

What  followed  after  his  death  until  the  Restoration 
belongs  to  English  history.  Under  his  son  Richard,  and 
his  associates,  or  advisers,  the  Protectorate  proved  a  fail- 
ure. Then  followed  the  negotiations  with  General 
Monck,  and  the  restoration  of  the  monarchy  under 
Charles  II,  who  landed  on  English  soil,  at  Dover,  May 
2.2,  1660,  proceeded  to  London,  where  he  was  cordially 
welcomed,  and  renewed  his  interrupted  reign  over  a 
country  which,  at  heart,  despised  and  distrusted  him  and 
all  of  his  fated  house. 


Ireland  Further  Scourged  Under  Charles  II — Murder  of  Archbishop 
Plunket — Accession  of  James  II 

THE  Irish  Catholics  had  built  high  hopes  on  the  res- 
toration of  Charles,  but  were  not  very  jubilant  when 
they  learned  that  he  had  appointed  as  Lords  Justices,  in 
Dublin,  their  ancient  foes  and  persecutors,  Coote  and  Brog- 
hill,  the  latter  now  called  the  Earl  of  Orrery.  In  the  Irish 
(provincial)  Parliament,  the  "Undertaking"  element  was 
in  the  ascendant,  and  the  Protestants,  barely  one-fifth  of 
the  nation,  had,  in  the  House  of  Lords,  72  peers  of  their 
faith  to  21  Catholics.  In  the  Commons  the  same  dispar- 
ity existed,  there  being  198  Protestant  to  64  Catholic 
members.  In  England,  the  defenders  of  the  crown,  who 
had  fought  against  Cromwell,  were,  in  most  cases,  treated 
with  justice,  and  many  had  their  possessions  restored  to 
them.  In  Ireland,  the  Royalists,  of  all  creeds  and 

The  Peop/e's  History  of  Ireland  241 

classes,  were  treated  by  the  king  and  his  advisers  with 
shameful  ingratitude.  Most  of  the  confiscations  of  the 
Cromwell  period  were  confirmed,  but  the  Catholic  religion 
was  tolerated,  to  a  certain  extent,  and  the  lives  of  priests 
and  schoolmasters  were  not  placed  in  jeopardy  as  much  as 
formerly.  The  Catholics  made  a  good  fight  for  the  res- 
toration of  their  property,  and  were  faithfully  aided  by 
the  Earl  of  Kildare  in  Ireland  and  by  Colonel  Richard 
Talbot — afterward  Earl  of  Tyrconnel — in  England.  But 
the  Cromwellian  settlers  maintained  the  advantage  in 
property  they  had  gained.  In  1775,  they  still  held  4,500,- 
ooo  acres  against  2,250,000  acres  held  by  the  original 
proprietors.  The  figures,  according  to  the  most  reliable 
authorities,  were  almost  exactly  the  reverse  before  the 
Cromwellian  settlement.  An  attempt  on  the  part  of  the 
Catholics,  to  be  allowed  greater  privileges  than  they  pos- 
sessed, was  met  in  a  most  unfriendly  spirit  in  England. 
One  of  their  delegates,  Sir  Nicholas  Plunkett,  was 
mobbed  by  the  Londoners  and  forbidden  the  royal  pres- 
ence by  the  order  of  the  Council,  while  Colonel  Talbot, 
because  of  his  bold  championship  of  the  Catholic  cause, 
was  sent  for  a  period  to  the  Tower.  The  Irish  Catholics 
were,  finally,  forbidden  to  make  any  further  address  in 
opposition  to  the  Bill  of  Settlement — as  the  act  confirm- 
ing the  confiscations  was  called  —  and  the  perfidious 
Charles  signed  it  without  compunction,  although  he  well 
knew  he  was  beggaring  his  own  and  his  father's  friends. 
An  English  tribunal,  appointed  to  sit  in  Dublin  and  hear 
the  Irish  claims,  declared  in  favor  of  the  plundered  na- 
tive proprietors,  but  as  it  was  met  immediately  by  the 
intrigues  of  the  ruthless  Ormond,  who  again  became 
Lord  Lieutenant  of  Ireland,  the  duration  of  this  honest 

242  The  People's  History  of  Ireland 

English  tribunal  was  limited  to  a  certain  day,  when  only 
about  800  out  of  3,000  cases  had  been  heard.  A  meas- 
ure called  "An  Act  of  Explanation"  was  then  passed 
(1665),  by  which  it  was  decreed  that  "no  Papist  who 
had  not  been  adjudged  innocent  under  the  former  act 
could  be  so  adjudged  thereafter,  or  entitled  to  claim  any 
lands  or  settlements."  "Thus,"  remarks  a  historian, 
"even  the  inheritance  of  hope,  and  the  reversion  of  ex- 
pectation, were  extinguished  forever  for  the  sons  and 
daughters  of  the  ancient  gentry  of  the  kingdom." 

An  attempt  made  by  the  titled  Catholic  laity  and  the 
prelates  and  priests  of  that  faith  to  establish  their  true 
position  in  regard  to  their  spiritual  and  secular  allegiance 
was  also  met  in  a  hostile  manner  by  Ormond,  who  so 
managed  as  to  excite  a  bitter  controversy  in  regard  to  a 
document  called  "The  Remonstrance,"  which  was  sup- 
posed to  embody  the  Catholic  idea  of  the  period.  The 
viceroy  succeeded  to  the  top  of  his  bent.  Dissension  pre- 
vailed at  a  meeting  of  the  surviving  prelates  of  the  Church, 
and  the  superiors  of  regular  orders,  held  in  Dublin,  and 
Ormond  made  the  failure  of  the  gathering  an  excuse 
for  persecuting  Che  prelates  and  priests,  whom  he  bitterly 
hated  as  a  body  he  could  not  use,  with  penal  severities, 
which  the  selfish  and  sensual  king,  who  was  himself  a 
Catholic  in  secret,  allowed  to  pass  without  interference. 

In  this  same  year  (1666)  the  importation  of  Irish  cat- 
tle into  England  was  declared,  by  Parliamentary  enact- 
ment, "a  nuisance,"  for  the  reason  that  when  the  Lon- 
doners were  starving,  at  the  time  of  the  Great  Fire,  Ire- 
land contributed  for  their  relief  15,000  fat  steers.  In- 
stead of  being  grateful  for  the  generous  gift,  the  English 
lawmakers  pretended  to  believe  it  a  scheme  to  preserve 

The  People's  History  of  Ireland  243 

the  trade  in  cattle  between  the  two  kingdoms.  The  Nav- 
igation Act — invented  by  Cromwell — which  put  fetters 
on  Irish  commerce,  was  also  enforced,  and  these  two 
grievances  united,  for  a  time,  the  Puritans  and  the  Old 
Irish,  as  both  suffered  equally  from  the  restrictions 
placed  upon  industry.  Ormond  showed  favor  to  the  dis- 
contented Puritans,  and  was  recalled  in  consequence. 
His  retirement  lasted  nine  years,  and  during  that  period 
he  became  a  patron  of  Irish  manufactures,  especially  in 
the  county  of  Kilkenny.  A  bogus  "Popish  plot" — an  off- 
shoot of  that  manufactured  in  England,  during  this  reign, 
by  that  arch-impostor  and  perjurer,  Titus  Gates — was 
trumped  up  in  Ireland  for  purposes  of  religious  and  po- 
litical terrorism.  The  attempt  to  fasten  it  upon  the  masses 
of  the  people  happily  failed,  but,  without  even  the  shadow 
of  proof,  the  aged  and  venerated  archbishop  of  Armagh, 
Oliver  Plunkett,  was  accused  of  complicity  in  it,  arrested 
and  confined,  without  form  of  trial,  for  ten  months  in  an 
Irish  prison.  Finally  he  was  removed  to  London  and 
placed  on  trial.  One  of  his  "judges"  was  the  notorious 
Jeffreys — the  English  Norbury — a  man  destitute  of  a 
heart.  Even  one  of  the  paid  perjurers,  called  a  crown 
agent,  stung  by  remorse,  offered  to  testify  in  behalf  of 
the  unfortunate  archbishop.  All  was  in  vain,  however. 
The  judges  charged  the  jury  against  the  accused,  violat- 
ing every  legal  form,  and  the  hapless  prelate  was  found 
guilty.  He  was  sentenced  to  be  "hanged,  drawn,  and 
quartered"  on  July  i,  1681.  This  sentence  was  carried 
out  in  all  its  brutal  details.  When  the  Earl  of  Essex 
appealed  to  the  king  to  save  the  illustrious  martyr, 
Charles  replied:  "I  can  not  pardon  him,  because  I  dare 
not.  His  blood  be  upon  your  conscience.  You  could 

244  The  People's  History  of  Ireland 

have  saved  him  if  you  pleased!"  And  this  craven  king, 
a  few  years  afterward,  on  his  deathbed,  called  for  the 
ministrations  of  a  priest  of  the  Church  outraged  by  the 
murder  of  an  innocent  prelate !  The  slaughter  of  Oliver 
Plunkett  was  the  most  atrocious  political  assassination  in 
English  history,  which  reeks  with  such  crimes.  The 
shooting  of  Due  d'Enghien  by  Napoleon  did  not  approach 
,it  in  cold-blooded  infamy.  The  king,  the  minister,  the 
court,  the  jury— everybody — believed  the  archbishop  in- 
nocent, and  yet  he  was  sacrificed  that  his  blood  might 
satisfy  the  rampant  bigotry  of  the  times. 

The  Catholics  were  ferociously  pursued  in  Ireland 
after  this  shameful  tragedy.  Proclamations  were  issued 
against  them  by  Ormond,  who  had  yet  again  become 
Lord  Lieutenant.  They  were  forbidden  to  enter  for- 
tresses or  to  hold  fairs,  markets,  or  gatherings  within 
the  walls  of  corporate  towns.  They  were  also  forbidden 
the  use  of  arms — an  old  English  expedient  in  Ireland — 
and  they  were  commanded  to  kill  or  capture  any  "Tory" 
or  "outlaw"  relative  within  fourteen  days  from  the  date 
of  proclamation,  under  penalty  of  being  arrested  and 
banished  from  Ireland.  This  was  the  setting  of  brother 
against  brother  with  a  vengeance.  Few  of  the  Irith 
people  were  found  base  enough  to  comply  with  the  un- 
natural order,  but  Count  Redmond  O'Hanlon,  one  of  the 
few  Irish  chiefs  of  ancient  family  who  still  held  out 
against  English  penal  law  in  Ireland,  was  assassinated 
in  a  cowardly  manner  by  one  of  Ormond's  ruthless  tools. 
The  blood  stains  from  the  heart  of  the  brave  O'Hanlon 
will  sully  forever  the  escutcheon  of  the  Irish  Butlers. 

Just  as  the  spirit  of  persecution  of  Catholics  began  to 
subside  both  in  England  and  Ireland,  Charles  II,  who 

The  People's  History  of  Ireland  245 

had  been  much  worried  by  the  political  contentions  in 
his  English  kingdom,  which  resulted  in  the  banishment 
of  Monmouth  and  the  execution  of  Lord  William  Rus- 
sell and  Algernon  Sidney,  had  a  stroke  of  apoplexy, 
which  resulted  in  his  death  on  February  6,  1685.  In 
his  last  moments  he  was  attended  by  the  Rev.  Father 
Huddlestone,  who  rece  ved  him  into  the  Catholic  Church, 
which  he  had  betrayec  so  foully.  He  was  immediately 
succeeded  by  his  Cat!  olic  brother,  the  Duke  of  York, 
who  ascended  the  thi  one  under  the  title  of  James  II. 
James  was  a  man  of  n  solute  purpose,  good  intentions,  no 
doubt,  but  had  a  nan  :>w  intellect  and  sadly  lacked  dis- 
cretion—at least  in  th  •  moral  sense.  His  physical  cour- 
age has  been  question  :d,  although  the  famous  Marshal 
Turenne  certified  to  it,  when  he,  in  his  fiery  youth,  served 
in  the  French  armies.  He  was  destined,  as  we  shall  see, 
to  ruin  his  friends,  exa^t  his  enemies,  and  wreck  the  an- 
cient Stuart  dynasty. 


Well   Meant  but  Imprudent   Policy  of  King  James — England   In- 
vites William  of  Orange  to  Assume  the  Throne 

A  LTHOUGH  the  final  outcome  of  his  policy  was  dis- 
**•  astrous  to  Ireland,  we  feel  justified  in  saying  that 
James  II  meant  well  by  all  his  subjects.  He  was  a 
friend  of  religious  equality — an  idea  hateful  to  the  En- 
glish and  a  large  portion  of  the  Scottish  nation  at  that 
period.  In  Ireland,  too,  the  Protestant  minority  resented 
it,  because,  to  their  minds,  it  meant  Catholic  ascendency 
and  the  restoration  of  stolen  estates.  But  James  went 
about  his  reforms  so  awkwardly,  and  imprudently,  that 
he  brought  on  himself  almost  immediately  the  all  but 

246  The  People's  History  of  Ireland 

unanimous  ill-will  of  his  English  subjects.  He  dared  to 
profess  his  Catholic  faith  openly — an  unforgivable  of- 
fence in  England  at  that  time.  He  sought  to  equalize 
the  holding  of  office  by  the  abolition  of  the  Test  Act, 
aimed  against  Catholics,  so  that  English,  Scotch,  and 
Irish  Catholics  should  have  the  same  rights  and  priv- 
ileges in  that  respect  as  their  Protestant  brethren.  This, 
also,  was  an  idea  hateful  to  the  English  mind  of  the 
period.  The  king  undertook  to  regulate  the  judiciary, 
the  privy  council,  the  army,  the  civil  list — every  public 
appointment — according  to  his  own  notions.  This  meant 
recognition  of  the  Catholics  and  produced  an  uproar  in 
England.  He  recalled  Ormond  from  the  viceroyalty  of 
Ireland  and  sent  Lord  Clarendon  to  take  his  place.  Fi- 
nally, Clarendon  resigned  and  Richard  Talbot,  who  had 
been  created  Duke  of  Tyrconnel,  was  made  Lord  Lieu- 
tenant of  Ireland.  This  appointment  alarmed  the  Irish 
Protestants,  who,  as  usual,  feared  that  the  Catholics 
would  get  back  their  lands  under  a  friendly  executive, 
such  as  Tyrconnel — whose  former  exertions  in  regard  to 
the  Catholic  claims  were  not  forgotten — was  well  known 
to  be.  He  was  injudicious  enough,  at  the  outset,  to  dis- 
miss many  Protestant  officers  from  the  Irish  military 
establishment  and  place  Catholics  in  their  positions.  Al- 
though this  was  done  by  proportion,  Protestant  jealousy 
was  aroused  and  the  seeds  of  revolt  were  deeply  planted. 
In  England,  popular  feeling  against  the  king  was  at 
fever  heat.  His  illegitimate  Protestant  nephew — putative 
son  of  Charles  II — the  Duke  of  Monmouth,  who  had  been 
exiled,  returned  to-  England  and  organized  a  rebellion 
against  him.  This  ill-starred  movement  culminated  at 
Sedgemoor,  in  Somersetshire,  in  the  summer  of  1685. 

The  People's  History  of  Ireland  247 

A  battle  was  fought  there  between  the  unorganized  En- 
glish peasants,  under  "King  Monmouth,"  as  they  called 
him,  and  the  royal  army,  under  the  Earl  of  Feversham. 
The  rebels  fought  with  commendable  courage,  but  were 
badly  commanded  and  suffered  an  overwhelming  defeat. 
Monmouth  escaped  from  the  field,  but  was  captured  soon 
afterward,  tried,  found  guilty,  and  beheaded  on  Tower 
Hill,  of  bloody  memory,  July  15,  1685.  He  had  appealed 
in  vain  to  James  for  mercy,  and  appealed  in  a  manner  so 
craven  and  undignified  that  he  aroused  the  disgust  of  his 
stern  uncle.  But  the  blood  of  the  vanquished  did  not 
cease  to  flow  when  Monmouth  died.  The  "Bloody  As- 
sizes," conducted  by  Jeffreys,  the  "great  crimson  toad," 
as  Dickens  describes  him,  and  four  assistant  judges, 
spread  death  and  terror  throughout  the  English  districts 
recently  in  revolt.  This  period  of  English  history  bore  a 
striking  resemblance  to  the  1798  period  in  Ireland,  when 
other  "great  crimson  toads"  hanged  the  hapless  peas- 
antry, and  some  of  higher  rank,  by  the  hundred  and  thou- 
sand. All  this  butchery  made  James  unpopular  with  a 
vast  majority  of  the  English  people,  but,  as  he  had  no 
male  heir,  the  nation  hesitated  to  rise  against  him,  espe- 
cially as  Monmouth  himself  had  been  the  aggressor.  But 
James,  while  Duke  of  York,  had  married  a  young  wife, 
the  Princess  Mary,  sister  of  the  Duke  of  Modena,  who 
bore  him  a  son — afterward  called  by  the  Hanoverian  fac- 
tion the  Pretender — in  June,  1688.  This  altered  the  whole 
aspect  of  affairs  and  a  revolution  became  imminent  im- 
mediately. Mary  of  Modena,  although  an  intelligent  and 
amiable  woman,  was  of  a  haughty  and  somewhat  punc- 
tilious disposition  at  times.  This  made  her  almost  as  un- 
popular with  the  English  people  as  was  her  husband.  Sir 

248  The  People's  History  of  Ireland 

Walter  Scott  relates  that,  while  Duchess  of  York,  she  ac- 
companied her  husband  to  Scotland,  whither  he  went  at 
the  behest  of  his  brother,  King  Charles.  James  got  along 
very  well  with  the  Scotch,  particularly  the  Highlanders, 
who  adored  him,  and  whose  loyalty  to  his  family  remained 
unshaken  until  after  Culloden.  He  invited  an  old  Conti- 
nental veteran,  Sir  Thomas  Dalzell,  to  dine  with  him. 
The  duchess  had  the  bad  taste  to  object  to  the  company 
of  a  commoner.  "Make  yourself  easy  on  that  head, 
madam,"  remarked  Sir  Thomas;  "I  have  sat  at  a  table 
where  your  father  might  have  stood  behind  my  chair!" 
He  alluded  to  a  dinner  given  him  and  others  by  the  Em- 
peror of  Austria,  who  was  the  suzerain  of  the  Duke  of 
Modena.  The  latter,  if  called  upon  by  the  emperor,  would 
have  had  to  act  in  the  capacity  of  an  honorary  waiter. 
All  students  of  history  are,  doubtless,  familiar  with  the 
romantic  chivalry  displayed  by  Edward  the  Black  Prince, 
when  he  waited  upon  his  captive,  King  John  of  France, 
whom  he  had  vanquished  at  Poitiers.  Mary  of  Modena 
was,  we  may  be  sure,  not  formed  by  nature  to  make 
friends  for  her  husband,  as  the  brave  Margaret  of  Anjou 
did  for  the  physically  and  mentally  degenerate  Plan- 
tagenet,  Henry  VI.  Had  Mary  been  a  Margaret,  William 
of  Orange  might  never  have  occupied  the  throne  of  "the 
Three  Kingdoms."  The  climax  of  King  James's  political 
imprudences — they  can  not,  in  the  light  of  modern  ideas 
of  religious  equality,  be  called  errors — was  reached  when 
he  issued  his  famous  declaration  against  test  oaths  and 
penal  laws,  and  decreed  that  it  should  be  read  from  the 
altars  of  the  Protestant,  as  well  as  the  Catholic,  churches 
throughout  England.  Six  Protestant  prelates,  headed  by 
the  Archbishop  of  Canterbury,  made  protest  by  petition 

The  People's   History  of  Ireland  249 

and  even  visited  the  king  in  his  bedchamber  to  dissuade 
him  from  his  purpose.  But  he  persisted,  as  was  usual' 
with  him. 

On  the  Sunday  following  the  bishops'  call,  out  of 
10,000  English  clergymen  only  200  complied  with  the 
royal  decree.  Of  course  we,  Americans,  who  have  equal 
laws  for  all  creeds  and  classes,  can  not  consistently  con- 
demn King  James  for  advocating  what  we  ourselves  prac- 
tice, but  we  can  afford  to  lament  the-  fatuity  which  led 
him  to  dare  Protestant  resentment  by  seeking  to  make 
Protestant  pulpits  the  mediums  of  his  radical  policy.  It 
was  playing  with  fire.  Had  he  stopped  short  at  this  point, 
James  might  have  still  held  his  crown,  but,  with  incurable 
obstinacy,  he  insisted  on  prosecuting  the  recalcitrant 
bishops  before  the  Court  of  King's  Bench,  and  they  were 
finally  committed  by  the  Privy  Council  to  the  Tower  of 
London.  All  England  was  now  ablaze  with  fierce  re- 
sentment. At  the  Tower  the  right  reverend  prisoners 
were  treated  more  like  royal  personages  than  captives. 
The  officers  and  soldiers  of  the  army — excepting  the  Irish 
regiments  raised  by  Tyrconnel  for  James,  and  sent  to  do 
garrison  duty  in  England — openly  drank  to  their  speedy 
release.  When  they  came  to  trial  in  the  King's  Bench, 
the  jury,  after  being  out  on  the  case  all  night,  found  the 
six  prelates  not  guilty  on  the  charge  of  censuring  the 
king's  government  and  defying  the  king's  mandate,  and 
they  were  immediately  released  amid  popular  acclama- 

The  "loyal"  Protestant  majority  had  succeeded  in 
placing  the  Catholic  minority,  their  own  fellow-country- 
men, in  a  position  of  political  nonentity,  simply  because 
they  worshiped  God  according  to  their  belief.  Who  could, 

250  The  People's  History  of  Ireland 

then,  have  imagined  that  the  England  which  refused 
"equality  in  the  holding  of  office  to  Catholic  subjects  would, 
about  two  hundred  years  later,  have  a  Catholic  for  Lord 
Chief  Justice  and  an  Irish  Catholic  (Lord  Russell  of  Kill- 
owen)  at  that?  Five  generations  have  done  much  toward 
a  change  of  sentiment  in  England.  But  King  James,  we 
are  told,  on  hearing  the  shouts  of  the  people  when  the 
acquittal  was  announced,  asked  of  Lord  Feversham,  who 
happened  to  be  with  him:  "What  do  they  shout  for?" 
And  Feversham  replied,  carelessly:  "Oh,  nothing — only 
the  acquittal  of  the  bishops !"  "And  you  call  that  noth- 
ing?" cried  the  king.  "So  much  the  worse  for  them," 
meaning  the  people.  These  latter  were  excited  by  the 
Protestant  lords  and  gentry,  who  much  feared  a  Catholic 
succession,  now  that  the  king  had  an  heir-male  to  the 
throne.  Both  of  his  daughters — Mary,  married  to  Wil- 
liam, Prince  of  Orange,  the  king's  nephew,  and  Anne, 
who  became  the  wife  of  the  Prince  of  Denmark — were 
Protestants,  their  mother  having  brought  them  up  in 
that  belief.  William,  half  a  Stuart  and  half  a  Dutchman, 
brave,  resolute,  and  wise  withal,  seemed  to  the  English 
malcontents  to  be  the  "heaven-appointed"  man  to  supplant 
his  own  uncle  and  father-in-law.  William  was  nothing 
loth,  and  Mary,  who  was  to  share  the  throne  with  him, 
made  no  objection  to  this  most  unfilial  proceeding. 
Neither  did  Anne,  who,  like  the  unnatural  creature  she 
was,  fled  from  her  father's  palace,  guided  and  guarded 
by  the  Protestant  Bishop  of  London,  as  soon  as  she  heard 
of  William's  almost  unobstructed  march  on  the  capital. 
That  personage  had  landed  at  Torbay,  in  Devonshire,  on 
November  5 — the  anniversary  of  the  Gunpowder  Plot 
of  the  days  of  James  I — convoyed  by  an  immense  fleet, 

The  People's  History  of  Ireland  251 

which  carried  to  the  shores  of  England  a  picked  veteran 
army  of  15,000  men.  This  army  was  commanded,  under 
William,  by  the  Marshal  Duke  of  Schomberg,  Count 
Solmes,  General  De  Ginkel,  and  other  officers  of  European 
renown.  The  principal  plotters  who  invited  William  to 
seize  the  crown  of  England  were  the  Earls  of  Danby, 
Shrewsbury,  Devonshire,  the  Bishop  of  London,  Lord 
Lumley,  Admiral  Russell,  and  Colonel  Sidney.  Just  a 
little  while  before  the  coming  of  William,  James  took  the 
alarm  and  attempted  to  make  concessions  to  the  Protes- 
tants. He  also  decreed  the  strengthening  of  the  army,  and 
the  enlistment  of  Irish  Catholics  and  Scotch  Highlanders, 
most  of  whom  had  retained  the  old  faith,  was  encouraged. 
At  the  news  of  William's  arrival  in  Exeter,  whither 
he  had  marched  from  Torbay,  the  English  aristocracy 
became  wildly  excited  and  hastened  to  join  his  standard. 
The  faculty  of  the  University  of  Oxford  sent  him  word 
that,  if  he  needed  money  to  carry  out  his  enterprise, 
the  plate  of  that  institution  would  be  melted  down  to 
furnish  him  with  a  revenue.  An  agreement  of  the  no- 
bility and  gentry  was  drawn  up  and  signed,  and  in  it  they 
promised  to  stand  by  William  of  Orange  and  each  other, 
"in  defence  of  the  laws  and  liberties  of  the  three  king- 
doms and  the  Protestant  religion."  Thus,  it  will  be  no- 
ticed, Protestant  interests  was  the  cry  of  the  majority  in 
England,  opposed  to  James,  who,  as  we  have  said,  aimed 
at  equality  of  all  creeds  before  the  law,  while  in  Ireland, 
where  the  old  faith  "prevailed  mightily,"  Catholic  inter- 
ests, or  civil  and  religious  liberty,  became,  also,  the  war- 
cry  of  the  majority.  In  England  the  Catholic  minority 
remained  mostly  supine  during  this  period  and  until  long 
afterward.  In  Scotland  the  Catholics  and  many  Episco- 

252  The  People's  History  of  Ireland 

palians  rallied  for  James  under  the  leadership  of  the  im- 
placable and  brilliant  Claverhouse,  afterward  created  Vis- 
count Dundee.  They  took  the  field  for  "James  VII  of 
Scotland,"  as  they  called  the  exiled  king,  at  the  first  tap 
of  the  war  drum.  The  Catholic  majority  in  Ireland  natu- 
rally recognized  in  the  unfortunate  monarch  a  friend  who 
offered  them  religious  and  political  liberty,  and  so  they 
resolved  to  place  their  "lives,  fortunes,  and  sacred  honor" 
at  his  disposal. 

The  Irish  Catholics  can  not  be  justly  blamed  for  their 
devotion  to  the  cause  of  James,  who,  whatever  his  mo- 
tives, was  the  first  King  of  England  who  ever  at- 
tempted to  do  them  even  ordinary  justice.  Tyrcon- 
nel,  like  Strafford  in  a  preceding  reign,  although  with 
a  very  different  intention,  began  the  organization  of  a 
formidable  Irish  army,  which  was  designed  to  be  com- 
posed of  twenty  regiments  of  horse,  fifty  of  foot,  and  ar- 
tillery in  the  usual  proportion.  There  were  men  for  the 
mere  asking,  but  arms,  ammunition,  and  equipments  were 
sadly  lacking.  The  weakest  arm  of  the  military  branch 
of  the  public  service  was  the  artillery,  and  this  continued 
to  be  the  fact  throughout  all  of  the  subsequent  war.  As 
William  drew  nearer  to  London,  the  bulk  of  the  native 
English  army,  following  the  example  of  the  highest  offi- 
cers— including  Colonel  John  Churchill,  afterward  the 
great  Duke  of  Marlborough — went  over  to  him.  This  de- 
termined James  to  abandon  his  capital,  yet  his  friends 
induced  him  to  return  for  a  period.  But  the  still  nearer 
approach  of  "the  Deliverer,"  as  the  English  called  Wil- 
liam of  Orange,  again  induced  him  to  fly  from  London. 
He  had  previously  provided  for  the  safety  of  the  queen 
and  the  infant  heir  to  the  now  forfeited  crown,  who  had 

The  People's  History  of  Ireland  253 

taken  refuge  in  France.  The  date  of  his  final  departure 
from  Whitehall  Palace  was  December  n.  After  not  a 
few  perilous  adventures,  he  reached  the  court  of  his 
cousin,  Louis  XIV,  at  Versailles,  on  Christmas  Day, 
1688.  He  was  most  honorably  and  hospitably  received, 
and  Louis  placed  at  his  disposal  the  royal  palace  of  St. 
Germain,  in  the  neighborhood  of  Paris.  When  James 
heard  of  the  desertion  of  his  youngest  daughter,  Anne, 
to  his  enemies,  the  wretched  parent,  who  has  been  called 
"the  modern  Lear,"  exclaimed  in  the  anguish  of  his  soul : 
"God  help  me !  My  very  children  have  deserted  me !" 


Irish  Soldiers  Ill-Treated  in  England — Policy  of  Tyrconnel — King 
James  Chosen  by  the  Irish  Nation 

SUCH  Irish  soldiers  as  had  remained  in  England  after 
the  flight  of  James  were  mobbed,  insulted,  and  even 
murdered  by  the  unthinking  multitude,  so  easily  excited 
to  deeds  of  cruelty.  These  men  had  done  the  English 
people  no  wrong — they  had  shed  no  English  blood,  and 
they  even  wore  the  English  uniform.  Many  fell  in  sav- 
age combats  with  the  furious  mobs,  but  the  majority 
fought  their  way  to  the  seaports,  where  they,  by  some 
means,  obtained  shipment  to  Ireland,  carrying  with  them 
many  a  bitter  memory  of  England  and  her  people.  Many 
of  these  persecuted  troops  were  well-trained  cavalry,  who 
afterward  manifested  splendid  prowess  at  the  Boyne  and 
in  other  engagements.  Their  colonels  were  all  members 
of  the  ancient  Irish  nobility,  Celtic  or  Norman,  and  they 
were  quite  incapable  of  the  crimes  the  credulous  English' 
mobs  were  taught  to  believe  they  were  ready  to  commit 
at  the  earliest  opportunity.  Although  the  English  peo- 

254  The  People's  History  of  Ireland 

pie,  in  their- normal  condition,  are  a  steady  and  coura- 
geous race,  they  are,  when  unduly  excited,  capable  of  en- 
tertaining sentiments  and  performing  acts  discreditable 
to  them  as  a  nation.  A  people  so  ready  to  resent  any 
imposition,  real  or  fancied,  on  themselves,  should  be  a 
little  less  quick  to  punish  others  for  following  their  ex- 
ample. It  is  not  too  much  to  say  that  the  English,  as  a 
majority,  have  been  made  the  victims  of  more  religious 
and  political  hoaxes — imposed  upon  them  by  evil-minded 
knaves — than  any  other  civilized  nation.  It  was  of  the 
English,  rather  than  ourselves,  the  great  American  show- 
man, Barnum,  should  have  said :  "These  people  love  to 
be  humbugged !" 

From  the  French  court,  which  entirely  sympathized 
with  him,  James  entered  into  correspondence  with  his 
faithful  subject  and  friend,  Tyrconnel,  in  Ireland.  The 
viceroy  sent  him  comforting  intelligence,  for  all  the  Cath- 
olics of  fighting  age  were  willing  to  bear  arms  in  his  de- 
fence. James  sent  Tyrconnel  about  10,000  good  mus- 
kets, with  the  requisite  ammunition,  to  be  used  by  the 
new  levies.  These  were  obtained  from  the  bounty  of 
the  King  of  France.  As  Tyrconnel  was  convinced  that 
Ireland,  of  herself,  could  hardly  make  headway  against 
William  of  Orange,  backed  as  he  was  by  most  of  Great 
Britain  and  half  of  Europe,  he  conceived  the  idea  of  plac- 
ing her,  temporarily  at  least,  under  a  French  protector- 
ate, in  the  shape  of  an  alliance  defensive  and  offensive, 
if  necessary.  He  had  the  tact  to  keep  King  James  in 
ignorance  of  this  agreement,  because  he  did  not  wish  him 
to  jeopardize  his  chance  of  regaining  the  British  crown, 
which  a  consenting  to  the  French  protectorate  would 
have  utterly  forfeited.  Tyrconnel's  policy,  under  the 

The  People's  History  of  Ireland  255 

circumstances  in  which  Ireland  was  placed,  may  have 
been  a  wise  one,  although,  in  general,  any  dependency  of 
one  country  upon  another  is  fatal  to  the  liberty  of  the  de- 
pendent nation.  Ireland,  contrary  to  general  belief,  is 
large  enough  to  stand  alone,  if  she  had  control  of  her 
own  resources.  To  illustrate  briefly,  she  is  within  a  few 
thousand  square  miles  of  being  as  large  as  Portugal,  and 
is  much  more  fertile;  while  she  is  almost  a  third  greater 
in  area  than  Holland  and  Belgium  combined.  Her  ex- 
tensive coast  line,  numerous  safe  harbors,  and  exceeding 
productiveness  amply  compensate  for  the  comparative 
smallness  of  her  area. 

In  February,  1689,  the  national  conventions  of  Eng- 
land and  Scotland,  by  vast  majorities,  declared  that  King 
James  had  abdicated  and  offered  the  crown  to  William 
and  Mary,  who,  as  might  have  been  expected,  accepted 
it  with  thanks.  Ireland  had  nothing  to  say  in  the  mat- 
ter, except  by  the  voices  of  a  few  malcontents  who  had 
fled  to  Britain.  Nevertheless,  the  new  sovereigns  finally 
assumed  the  rather  illogical  title  of  "William  and  Mary, 
'by  the  grace  of  God,'  King  and  Queen  of  England,  Scot- 
land, France,  and  Ireland."  In  France  they  held  not  a 
foot  of  ground;  and  in  Ireland  four-fifths  of  the  people 
acknowledged  King  James.  James  Graham,  of  Claver- 
house  (Viscount  Dundee),  expressed  his  dissent  from  the 
majority  in  the  convention  of  Scotland.  Sir  Walter  Scott 
has  immortalized  the  event  in  the  stirring  lyric  which  be- 
gins thus : 

"To  the  Lords  of  Convention  'twas  Claverhouse  spoke,         -~  *#£  g 
'Ere  the  king's  crown  shall  fall,  there  are  crowns  to  be  brokf!,  £ 
So  let  each  cavalier,  who  loves  honor  and  me,  I         S^$M 

Come  follow  the  bonnet  of  Bonnie  Dundee!"  '^fftf*^ 

Ireland— 12  Vol.  4$i  •„  ;  . „  „ '  i  g 

256  The  People's  History  of  Ireland 

James  had  some  strong  partisans  in  England  also — 
mostly  among  the  Roman  Catholic  and  Episcopalian 
High  Church  elements,  but  they  were  powerless  to  stem 
the  overwhelming  tide  of  public  opinion  against  him. 
Ireland  was  with  him  vehemently,  except  the  small  Prot- 
estant minority,  chiefly  resident  in  Ulster,  which  was  en- 
thusiastic for  William  and  Mary.  Representatives  of 
this  active  element  had  closed  the  gates  of  Derry  in  the 
face  of  the  Earl  of  Antrim,  when  he  demanded  the  town's 
surrender,  in  the  name  of  the  deposed  king,  in  December, 
1688.  This  incident  proved  that  the  Irish  Protestants, 
with  the  usual  rule-proving  exceptions,  meant  "war  to 
the  knife"  against  the  Catholic  Stuart  dynasty.  Thus 
civil  war,  intensified  by  foreign  intervention,  became  in- 

The  towns  of  Inniskillen,  Sligo,  Coleraine,  and  the 
fort  of  Culmore,  on  the  Foyle,  either  followed  the  ex- 
ample of  Derry,  or  were  seized  without  ceremony  by 
the  partisans  of  William  and  Mary  in  Ulster  and  Con- 
naught.  These  partisans,  headed  by  Lord  Blaney,  Sir 
Arthur  Rawdon,  and  other  Anglo-Irishmen,  invited 
William  to  come  into  the  country,  "for  the  maintenance 
of  the  Protestant  religion  and  the  dependency  of  Ireland 
upon  England."  Thus,  again,  was  the  Protestant  re- 
ligion made  the  pretext  of  provincializing  Ireland,  and 
because  of  this  identification  of  it  with  British  supremacy 
the  new  creed  has  remained  undeniably  unpopular  with 
the  masses  of  the  Irish  people.  The  latter  are  very  ar- 
dent Catholics,  as  their  long  and  bloody  wars  in  de- 
fence of  their  faith  have  amply  proven,  but  while  this 
statement  is  undeniable,  it  can  not  be  denied  either  that 
had  the  so-called  Reformation  not  been  identified  with 

The  People's  History  of  Ireland  257 

English  political  supremacy,  it  might  have  made  much 
greater  inroads  among  the  Irish  population  than  it  has 
succeeded  in  doing.  Ireland  was  treated  not  a  whit  bet- 
ter under  the  Catholic  rulers  of  England,  from  1169  to 
the  period  of  Mary  I — Henry  VIII  was  a  schismatic 
rather  than  a  Protestant — than  under  her  Protestant 
rulers,  until  James  II  appeared  upon  the  scene,  and  his 
clemency  toward  the  Irish  was  based  upon  religious, 
rather  than  national  grounds.  Even  in  our  own  day, 
the  English  Catholics  are  among  the  strongest  opponents 
of  Irish  legislative  independence,  and  in  the  category  of 
such  opponents  may  be  classed  the  late  Cardinal  Vaughan 
and  the  present  Duke  of  Norfolk. 

King  James,  at  the  call  of  the  Irish  majority,  left  his 
French  retreat,  and  sailed  from  Brest  with  a  fleet  pro- 
vided by  King  Louis,  which  saw  him  in  safety  to  mem- 
orable Kinsale,  where  he  landed  on  March  12,  old  style, 
1689.  He  was  accompanied  by  about  1,200  veteran 
troops,  French  and  Irish,  with  a  sprinkling  of  royalists, 
Scotch  and  English,  and  several  officers  of  high  rank, 
including  Lieutenant-General  De  Rosen,  Lieutenant-Gen- 
eral Maumont,  Major-General  De  Lery,  Major-General 
Pusignan,  Colonel  Patrick  Sarsfield,  afterward  the  re- 
nowned Earl  of  Lucan,  and  the  king's  two  natural  sons, 
the  Duke  of  Berwick  and  Grand  Prior  Fitzjames.  There 
came  with  him  also  fifteen  Catholic  chaplains,  most  of 
whom  could  speak  the  Gaelic  tongue,  and  these  gentle- 
men were  very  useful  to  him  on  a  mission  such  as  he 
had  undertaken.  The  progress  of  the  ill-fated  monarch 
through  Ireland,  from  Kinsale  to  Dublin  was,  in  every 
sense,  a  royal  one.  The  Irish  masses,  ever  grateful  to 
any  one  who  makes  sacrifices,  or  who  even  appears  to 

258  The   People's  History  of  Ireland 

make  them,  in  their  behalf,  turned  out  in  all  their 
strength.  A  brilliant  cavalcade,  headed  by  the  dashing 
Duke  of  Tyrconnel,  escorted  the  king  from  town  to 
town.  His  collateral  descent  from  King  Edward  Bruce, 
freely  chosen  by  Ireland  early  in  the  fourteenth  century, 
was  remembered.  James  was,  therefore,  really  wel- 
comed as  King  of  Ireland.  The  Irish  cared  nothing  for 
his  British  title.  If  the  choice  of  the  majority  of  a 
nation  makes  regal  title  binding,  then  James  II  was  as 
truly  elected  King  of  Ireland,  in  1689,  as  Edward  Bruce 
was  in  1315.  And  we  make  this  statement  thus  plainly, 
because  it  will  enable  non-Irish  and  non-Catholic  readers 
to  understand  why  Catholic  Ireland  fought  so  fiercely 
and  devotedly  for  an  English  ruler  who  had  lost  his 
crown  in  the  assertion  of  Catholic  rights  and  privileges. 
There  was  still  another  cause  for  this  devotion  of  the 
majority  of  the  Irish  people  to  King  James.  He  had 
consented  to  the  summoning  of  a  national  Irish  parlia- 
ment, in  which  Protestants  as  well  as  Catholics  were  to 
be  represented  in  due  proportion,  and  this  decision  on 
his  part  made  many  of  the  Episcopalian  Irish  either  neu- 
tral in  the  civil  conflict  or  active  on  his  side.  The  num- 
ber of  such  persons  as  were  comprised  in  the  latter  class 
was  comparatively  insignificant — just  enough  to  mitigate 
the  curse  of  absolute  sectarianism  in  the  contest.  The 
Dissenting  or  non-conforming  Irish  were,  almost  to  a 
unit,  hostile  to  the  Jacobite  cause. 




King  James  in  Ireland — Enthusiastic  Reception  of  Him  by  the  Irish 
People — Military  Operations 

NOTHING  could  exceed  the  enthusiasm  with  which 
the  Irish  people  welcomed  King  James.  In  the 
cities  and  towns,  flowers  were  strewn  in  his  path,  cor- 
poration officials  turned  out  in  their  robes  of  state,  and 
speeches  of  welcome  were  delivered  in  English  or  read 
in  Latin.  The  entry  into  Dublin  was  a  magnificent  spec- 
tacle. The  whole  city  was  in  gala  dress,  and  the  differ- 
ent trades  paraded  before  him.  Harpers  played  at  the 
triumphal  arches  under  which  he  passed.  Beautiful  young 
girls,  costumed  in  pure  white,  and  coroneted  with  wreaths, 
danced  the  ancient  Irish  national  dance,  known  as  the 
Rinka,  in  the  progress  of  which  flowers  were  profusely 
scattered  by  the  fair  performers.  The  religious  orders 
were  out  in  force,  a  great  cross  being  borne  at  their 
head.  The  viceroy,  lord  mayor,  and  members  of  the 
corporation,  on  horseback  or  in  carriages,  made  up  an 
imposing  part  of  the  procession.  When  he  reached  the 
Castle,  the  sword  of  state  was  presented  to  him  by  the 
Lord  Lieutenant,  and  the  Recorder  handed  him,  accord- 
ing to  an  old  custom,  the  keys  of  the  city.  "Te  Deum" 
was  sung  in  the  Chapel  Royal,  one  of  the  architectural 
creations  of  the  Duke  of  Tyrconnel.  From  the  flagstaff 
on  the  tower  of  the  Castle  itself,  floated  an  Irish  na- 
tional flag,  with  a  golden  harp  upon  its  folds;  and  on 

this  broad  ensign  were  inscribed  the  inspiring  and  sadly 


262  The  People's  History  of  Ireland 

prophetic  words,  "Now  or  Never!  Now  and  Forever!" 
Wherever  the  king  appeared  in  public,  he  was  greeted 
with  enthusiastic  shouts,  in  Gaelic,  of  "Righ  Seamus! — 
Righ  Seamus,  Go  Bragh"!  ("King  James — King  James, 

The  military  situation  of  King  James's  adherents  in 
Ireland  could  not  be  called  encouraging  when  he  took  up 
his  residence  in  Dublin.  As  usual,  arms  and  ammuni- 
tion were  scarce.  Some  30,000  men  had  volunteered  to 
fight  for  Ireland,  and  there  were  not  more  than  20,000 
stand  of  arms,  all  told,  to  place  in  their  hands.  And 
of  this  small  supply,  fully  three-fourths  were  antiquated 
and  worthless.  While  there  were,  nominally,  fifty  regi- 
ments of  infantry  enrolled,  the  only  serviceable  regiments 
of  horse  were  those  of  Galmoy,  Tyrconnel,  and  Russell. 
There  was  one  regiment  of  dragoons,  and  of  cannon 
only  eight  field  pieces  had  been  collected.  The  two  best- 
equipped  bodies  of  Irish  troops  were  the  command  of 
General  Richard  Hamilton,  in  Ulster — about  3,000  men ; 
and  that  of  General  Justin  McCarthy,  Lord  Mountcashel, 
in  Munster — slightly  more  numerous.  Deny  and  In- 
niskillen  held  out  for  William  of  Orange,  and  notwith- 
standing some  successes  of  General  Hamilton  in  the 
North,  there  seemed  no  immediate  prospect  of  reducing 
them.  The  stubborn  attitude  of  Inniskillen  delayed  the 
junction  of  Mountcashel's  and  Hamilton's  forces,  which 
had  been  ordered  by  the  Duke  of  Tyrconnel,  commander- 
in-chief  of  the  Irish  army,  with  General  De  Rosen  as 
his  second  in  command.  The  smaller  places  occupied 
by  the  Williamite  forces  were  abandoned  as  being  un- 
tenable, and  the  little  garrisons  fell  back  on  London- 
derry, which  had  now  become  the  main  objective  of  the 

The  People's  History  of  Ireland  263 

Jacobite  army.  The  military  governor,  Lundy,  was  sus- 
pected of  being,  at  heart,  a  Stuart  sympathizer,  but  he 
was  soon  virtually  superseded,  first  by  Governor  Baker 
and  afterward  by  the  celebrated  Rev.  George  Walker, 
rector  of  the  living  of  Donoughmore,  to  whom  history 
awards  the  glory  of  the  long,  desperate,  brilliant,  and 
successful  defence  of  Derry  against  the  armies  of  King 
James.  It  is  a  pity  that  the  ability  and  bravery  dis- 
played by  Dr.  Walker  have  been  made  causes  of  po- 
litical and  religious  irritation  in  the  north  of  Ireland  for 
upward  of  two  centuries.  Lundy,  when  his  authority 
was  defied,  escaped  from  the  city  at  night,  in  the  disguise 
of  a  laborer,  and  cut  no  further  figure  in  Irish  history. 
Before  his  flight,  King  James's  flatterers  in  Dublin  had 
persuaded  him  to  advance  against  Derry  in  person  and 
demand  its  surrender.  Tyrconnel  opposed  the  idea  in 
vain.  He  well  knew  that  Lundy  was  in  correspondence 
with  Hamilton  and  De  Rosen  for  the  surrender  of  the 
city.  It  is  quite  probable  that  Derry  would  have  finally 
surrendered,  on  honorable  terms,  had  James  taken  Tyr- 
connel's  advice;  but,  with  his  usual  fatuity,  the  obstinate 
king  took  the  advice  of  the  shallow  courtiers,  and  did 
actually  present  himself  before  the  walls  of  Derry  and 
demand  its  unconditional  surrender!  The  reply  was  a 
cannon  shot,  which  killed  an  officer  at  James's  side.  The 
king  retired  with  precipitation,  and  the  citizens  sent  after 
him  the  "Prentice  Boys'  "  shout  of  "No  surrender !"  Mor- 
tified by  his  rather  ignominious  failure,  James  retired  to 
Dublin,  and  summoned  Parliament  to  meet  on  the  lines 
already  indicated. 

264  The  People's  History  of  Ireland 


Jacobites  Foiled  at  Londonderry — Mountcashel  Defeated  at  New- 
town   Butler — King  James's   Irish   Parliament 

THE  siege  of  Derry  was  continued  under  the  super- 
vision of  Maumont  and  Hamilton,  who  had  quite  a 
large  force  at  their  disposal.  It  is  regrettable  to  have  to 
state  that  the  Protestant  population  of  Ulster  was  further 
inflamed  against  the  Stuart  cause  by  the  needless  excesses 
of  Galmoy  and  the  barbaric  severity  of  De  Rosen,  who 
placed  a  crowd  of  helpless  women  and  children  between 
two  fires  under  the  ramparts  of  Derry,  in  the  hope  of 
compelling  the  garrison  to  surrender.  The  brilliant  vic- 
tories obtained  over  the  Williamites  at  Coleraine  and 
Cladysford,  by  General  Hamilton,  in  the  earlier  part  of 
the  campaign,  were  more  than  offset  by  the  overwhelm- 
ing defeat  inflicted  by  General  Wolseley,  at  Newtown 
Butler,  on  the  Jacobite  army  under  Mountcashel.  It  was 
Irish  against  Irish,  but  the  Inniskilleners,  who  made  up 
the  bulk  of  Wolseley's  force,  were  seasoned  soldiers,  well 
armed  and  well  directed.  Mountcashel's  men  were 
chiefly  green  levies,  and  the  battle  was  really  lost  through 
their  faulty  manoeuvring.  One  brigade  mistook  an  or- 
der to  change  front,  so  as  to  form  a  new  line  against  a 
flank  attack  of  the  enemy,  for  an  order  to  retreat,  and  so 
spread  a  panic  that  proved  fatal.  Mountcashel  himself 
was  dangerously  wounded  and  made  prisoner.  He  lost 
2,000  men  in  killed  and  wounded,  and  400  fugitives,  com- 
pletely surrounded,  surrendered  at  some  distance  from 
the  field.  This  battle  was  fought  on  July  31,  1689,  and, 

The  People's  History  of  Ireland  265 

on  the  same  day,  Derry  was  relieved  by  an  English  fleet, 
which  succeeded  in  breaking  the  boom  that  had  been 
constructed  by  the  Jacobite  engineers  across  the  mouth 
of  the  harbor. 

It  will  be  remembered  that  the  gates  of  the  city 
were  closed  against  Lord  Antrim  on  December  7,  1688. 
Hamilton's  bombardment  of  the  place  began  on  the 
1 7th  of  April,  1689,  and  lasted  for  three  months. 
There  was  a  total  blockade  for  three  weeks,  and  pro- 
visions became  so  scarce  that  the  defenders  actually  de- 
voured dogs,  cats,  rats,  mice — anything,  however  revolt- 
ing, that  migtit  satisfy  the  cravings  of  absolute  hunger. 
The  besiegers  also  suffered  from  bad  weather  and  the 
shots  from  the  hostile  batteries.  A  rough  computation 
places  the  total  loss  of  the  defenders  at  about  4,000  men, 
and  that  of  the  assailants  at  6,000 — the  latter  loss  chiefly 
by  disease.  The  relief  of  Derry  was  a  mortal  blow  to  the 
cause  of  King  James,  and  soon  afterward  he  lost  every 
important  post  in  Ulster,  except  Carrickfergus  and 
Charlemont.  Yet,  as  an  Irish  writer  has  well  remarked, 
Ulster  was  bestowed  by  the  king's  grandfather  "upon 
the  ancestors  of  those  who  now  unanimously  rejected 
and  resisted  him."  His  cause  also  received  a  fatal  stroke 
in  Scotland  by  the  death  of  the  brave  Dundee,  who  fell, 
vainly  victorious,  over  the  Williamite  general,  Mackay, 
at  the  battle  of  Killecrankie,  fought  July  26,  1689.  Duke 
Schomberg  arrived  in  Belfast  Lough  with  a  large  fleet 
and  army  on  Augustrjtb.  Count  Solmes  was  his  sec- 
ond in  command.  He  laid  siege  to  Carrickfergus,  which 
capitulated  on  fair  terms  after  eight  days'  bombardment. 
Charlemont,  defended  by  the  brave  and  eccentric  Colonel 
Teague  O'Reagan,  held  out  till  the  following  May, 

266  The  People's  History  of  Ireland 

when  it  surrendered  with  the  honors  of  war.  It  is  said 
that  King  William,  on  his  arrival  in  Ireland,  knighted 
O'Reagan  in  recognition  of  the  brilliancy  of  his  defence. 
The  young  Duke  of  Berwick  made  a  gallant  stand  in  the 
neighborhood,  but  was  finally  compelled  to  yield  ground 
to  the  superior  forces  of  Schomberg.  Critics  of  the  lat- 
ter's  strategy  hold  that  he  committed  a  grave  military 
error  in  failing  to  march  on  the  Irish  capital,  which  was 
not  in  a  good  posture  of  defence,  immediately  after  land- 
ing in  Ulster.  Had  he  done  so,  King  James  must  have 
had  to  evacuate  Dublin  and  fall  back  on  the  defensive 
line  of  the  Shannon,  as  Tyrconnel  and  Sarsfield  did  at  a 
later  period.  Then  Schomberg,  it  is  claimed,  would  not 
have  lost  more  than  half  of  his  army,  by  dysentery,  at  his 
marshy  camp  near  Dundalk,  where  King  James,  in  the 
autumn,  bearded  and  defied  him  to  risk  battle  with  the 
stronger  and  healthier  Jacobite  forces.  There  would 
have  been  no  occasion  for  the  Battle  of  the  Boyne,  the 
memory  of  which  has  divided  and  distracted  Irishmen 
for  more  than  two  centuries,  had  the  challenge  been 

The  Parliament  summoned  by  James  met  in  the  Inn's 
Court,  Dublin,  in  the  summer  of  1689.  It  was  composed 
of  46  peers  and  228  commoners.  Of  the  former  body, 
several  were  High  Church  Protestants,  but,  in  the  Lower 
House,  there  were  comparatively  few  members  of  the 
"reformed  religion."  This,  however,  was  not  the  fault 
of  the  king  or  his  advisers,  as  they  were  sincere  in  their 
desire  to  have  a  full  Protestant  representation  in  that 
Parliament.  But,  perhaps  naturally,  the  Protestants  were 
suspicious  of  the  king's  good  intentions,  and  so  the  ma- 
jority held  aloof  from  the  Parliamentary  proceedings. 

The  People's  History  of  Ireland  267 

The  most  important  acts  passed  by  that  Parliament  were 
one  establishing  liberty  of  conscience,  which  provided, 
among  other  things,  that  Catholics  should  not  be  com- 
pelled to  pay  tithes  to  Protestant  clergymen,  and  vice 
versa;  another  act  established  the  judicial  independence  of 
Ireland,  by  abolishing  writs  of  error  and  appeal  to  Eng- 
land. The  Act  of  Settlement  was  repealed,  under  protest 
by  the  Protestant  peers,  who  did  not,  for  obvious  rea- 
sons, wish  the  question  of  land  titles  obtained  by  fraud 
and  force  opened  up.  An  act  of  attainder,  directed  against 
persons  in  arms  against  their  sovereign  in  Ireland,  was 
added  to  the  list  of  measures.  Heedless  of  the  advice 
of  his  wisest  friends,  James  vetoed  the  bill  for  the  repeal 
of  the  infamous  Poynings'  Law,  which  made  the  Irish 
Parliament  dependent  upon  that  of  England ;  and  also  de- 
clined to  approve  a  measure  establishing  Inns  of  CouYt 
for  the  education  of  Irish  law  students.  In  the  first-men- 
tioned case,  James  acted  from  a  belief  that  his  own  pre- 
rogative of  vetoing  Irish  measures  in  council  was  at- 
tacked, but  his  hostility  to  the  measure  for  legal  education 
has  never  been  satisfactorily  explained.  Taken  as  a 
whole,  however,  King  James's  Irish  Parliament  was  a 
legislative  success;  and  it  enabled  the  Protestant  patriot 
and  orator,  Henry  Grattan,  when  advocating  Catholic 
claims  in  the  Irish  Parliament  a  hundred  years  afterward, 
to  say:  "Although  Papists,  the  Irish  Catholics  were  not 
slaves.  They  wrung  a  Constitution  from  King  James  be- 
fore they  accompanied  him  to  the  field." 

268  The  People's  History  of  Ireland 


King  James's  Imprudent  Acts — Witty  Retort  of  a  Protestant  Peer 
— Architectural  Features  of  Dublin 

OUR  last  chapter  showed  that  Ireland,  although  her 
population  was  overwhelmingly  Catholic,  began  her 
struggle  for  civil  liberty  by  a  non-sectarian  enactment, 
which  left  the  exercise  of  religion  free.  Yet,  strange  to 
say,  this  wise  and  liberal  policy  did  not  win  her  the 
sympathy  of  Europe,  Protestant  or  Catholic,  outside  of 
France,  whose  king  had  personal  reasons  for  his  friend- 
liness. Louis  XIV  was  both  hated  and  feared  by  the 
sovereigns  of  continental,  as  well  as  insular,  Europe. 
A  combination,  called  the  League  of  Augsburg,  was 
formed  against  him,  and  of  this  League  the  Emperor  of 
Germany  was  the  head  and  William  of  Orange  an  active 
member.  Spain,  Savoy,  and  other  Catholic  states  were 
as  zealous  against  Louis  as  the  Protestant  states  of  Swe- 
den and  North  Germany.  Even  the  Pope  was  on  the 
side  of  the  French  king's  foes.  In  fact,  when  Duke 
Schomberg  landed,  the  war  had  resolved  itself  into  a  con- 
flict between  the  rest  of  Europe,  except  Muscovy  and 
Turkey  and  their  dependencies,  and  France  and  Ireland. 
It  was  a  most  unequal  struggle,  but  most  gallantly  main- 
tained, with  varying  fortune,  on  Irish  soil  chiefly,  for  two 
long  and  bloody  years. 

King  James  made  enemies  among  his  warmest  sup- 
porters by  increasing  the  subsidy  voted  him  by  Parlia- 
ment to  twice  the  original  amount,  payable  monthly.  He 
also  debased  the  currency,  by  issuing  "brass  money," 
which  led  to  the  demoralization  of  trade,  and  Tyrconnel, 

The  People's  History  of  Ireland  269 

after  James's  departure  from  Ireland,  was  compelled  to 
withdraw  the  whole  fraudulent  issue  in  order  to  stop  the 
popular  clamor.  Some  Protestant  writers,  notably  Dr. 
Cooke  Taylor,  have  warmly  commended  the  king's  judi- 
cial appointments  in  Ireland,  with  few  exceptions.  In 
short,  to  sum  up  this  portion  of  his  career,  James  II  acted 
in  Ireland  the  part  of  despot  benevolently  inclined,  who 
thought  he  was  doing  a  wise  thing  in  giving  the  people 
a  paternal  form  of  government.  But  the  Irish  people 
can  not  long  endure  one-man  rule,  unless  convinced  that 
the  one  man  is  much  wiser  than  the  whole  mass  of  the 
nation,  which  is  not  often  the  case.  It  certainly  was  not 
in  the  case  of  King  James.  His  establishment  of  a  bank 
by  proclamation  and  his  decree  of  a  bank  restriction  act 
annoyed  and  angered  the  commercial  classes,  whose  prices 
for  goods  he  also  sought  to  regulate.  But  his  crowning 
act  of  unwisdom  was  interference  with  the  government  of 
that  time-honored  educational  institution,  Trinity  College, 
Dublin,  on  which,  notwithstanding  its  statutes,  he  sought 
to  force  officers  of  his  own  choosing.  He  also  wished  to 
make  fellowships  and  scholarships  open  to  Catholics — a 
just  principle,  indeed,  but  a  rash  policy,  considering  that 
every  act  of  the  kind  only  multiplied  his  enemies  among 
the  Protestants  of  Ireland,  who  were  already  sufficiently 
hostile.  Had  King  James  proceeded  slowly  in  his  chosen 
course,  he  might  have  come  down  to  posterity  as  a  suc- 
cessful royal  reformer.  Unfortunately  for  his  fame,  pos- 
terity in  general  regards  him  as  a  conspicuous  political  as 
well  as  military  failure. 

Among  King  James's  chosen  intimates  and  advisers 
during  his  residence  in  Dublin,  the  most  distinguished 
were  the  Duke  of  Tyrconnel,  the  Earl  of  Melfort,  Sec- 

270  The  People's  History  of  Ireland 

retary  of  State ;  Count  D'Avaux,  the  French  Ambassador ; 
Lord  Mountcashel,  Colonel  Sarsfield,  afterward  so  fa- 
mous; Most  Rev.  Dr.  McGuire,  Primate  of  Ireland,  and 
Chief  Justice  Lord  Nugent.  He  generally  attended  Mass 
every  morning  in  the  Chapel  Royal,  and,  on  Sundays, 
assisted  at  solemn  High  Mass.  One  Sunday,  he  was  at- 
tended to  the  entrance  of  the  chapel  by  a  loyal  Protestant 
lord,  whose  father  had  been  a  Catholic,  as  James's  had 
been  a  Protestant.  As  he  was  taking  his  leave,  the 
king  remarked,  rather  dryly:  "My  lord,  your  father 
would  have  gone  farther."  "Very  true,  sire,"  responded 
the  witty  nobleman,  "but  your  Majesty's  father  would 
not  have  gone  so  far!" 

The  Dublin  of  that  time  was  not,  in  any  sense,  the 
attractive  city  it  is  to-day.  Beyond  the  great  cathedrals 
and  the  ancient  Castle,  there  was  little  to  attract  the  eye, 
except  the  beauty  of  the  surroundings,  which  are  still  the 
admiration  of  all  visitors.  A  century  after  the  reign  of 
King  James,  Dublin,  from  an  architectural  standpoint, 
became  one  of  the  most  classical  of  European  capitals; 
and  the  Houses  of  Parliament,  the  Four  Courts,  the  Cus- 
tom House,  and  other  public  buildings,  became  the  pride 
of  the  populace.  These  monuments  of  Irish  genius  still 
exist,  although  shorn  of  their  former  glory;  but  they 
serve,  at  least,  to  attest  what  Ireland  could  accomplish 
under  native  rule.  There  is  not  a  penny  of  English  money 
in  any  of  these  magnificent  structures.  All  the  credit  of 
their  construction  belongs  to  the  Irish  Parliaments  of  the 
eighteenth  century. 

The  People's  History  of  Ireland  271 


Composition  of  the  Hostile  Armies — King  William  Arrives  in  Ire- 
land— Narrowly   Escapes  Death  on  Eve  of  Battle 

DURING  the  spring  and  early  summer  of  1690,  the 
war  clouds  began  to  mass  themselves  heavily  in  the 
northeastern  portion  of  the  island,  where  Duke  Schom- 
berg,  his  depleted  army  somewhat  recruited,  still  held 
his  ground  at  Dundalk,  with  small  garrisons  posted 
throughout  Ulster.  But  it  was  soon  known  that  Wil- 
liam of  Orange,  in  person,  was  to  command  in  chief  in 
this  fateful  campaign.  Several  engagements,  with  vary- 
ing fortune,  had  occurred  between  the  rival  armies  in  dif- 
ferent parts  of  the  north  country,  where  the  Duke  of  Ber- 
wick waged  a  vigorous  campaign  against  the  William- 
ites.  James,  dissatisfied  with  the  French  Ambassador, 
D'Avaux,  and  Lieutenant-General  De  Rosen,  demanded, 
and  obtained,  their  recall  by  King  Louis.  By  an  arrange- 
ment between  the  two  monarchs,  Mountcashel's  command 
of  6,000  men  was  exchanged  for  6,000  French  troops, 
under  Lieutenant-General  De  Lauzun,  who  eventually 
proved  to  be  even  a  greater  marplot  and  blunderer  than 
the  odious  De  Rosen.  Mountcashel's  force  formed  the 
Old  Irish  Brigade,  of  immortal  memory,  in  the  French 
service,  and  almost  immediately  after  its  arrival  in  France 
was  sent  to  operate  under  the  famous  Lieutenant-General 
St.  Ruth  in  Savoy.  It  also  served  in  several  campaigns 
under  the  great  Marshal  Catinat,  "Father  Thoughtful," 
as  he  was  fondly  called  by  the  French  army.  The  ex- 
change proved  a  bad  bargain  for  Ireland,  as  will  be  seen 
in  the  course  of  this  narration.  James  hoped  much  from 

272  The  People's  History  of  Ireland 

the  skill  and  daring  of  the  French  contingent,  but  was 
doomed  to  bitter  disappointment.  "His  troops,"  says 
McGee,  "were  chiefly  Celtic  and  Catholic.  There  were 
four  regiments  commanded  by  O'Neills,  two  by  O'Briens, 
one  each  by  McCarthy  More,  Maguire,  O*More,  O'Don- 
nell,  McMahon,  and  Magennis,  chiefly  recruited  among 
their  own  clansmen.  There  were  also  the  regiments  of 
Sarsfield,  Nugent,  De  Courcy,  Fitzgerald,  Grace,  and 
Burke,  chiefly  Celts  in  the  rank  and  file.  On  the  other 
hand,  Schomberg  led  into  the  field  the  famous  Blue  and 
White  Dutch  regiments;  the  Huguenot  regiments  of 
Schomberg  (the  Younger),  La  Millinier,  Du  Cambon, 
and  La  Caillemotte ;  the  English  regiments  of  Lords  Dev- 
onshire, Delamere,  Lovelace,  Sir  John  Lanier,  Colonels 
Langston,  Villiers,  and  others ;  the  Anglo-Irish  regiments 
of  Lords  Meath,  Roscommon,  Kingston,  and  Drogheda, 
with  the  Ulstermen  under  Brigadier  Wolseley  and  Colo- 
nels Gustavus  Hamilton,  Mitchellburn,  Lloyd,  White,  St. 
John,  and  Tiffany." 

The  absence  of  a  fleet,  the  entire  navy  having  gone  over 
to  William,  placed  James  at  a  great  disadvantage,  and 
explains  why  there  were  no  sea  fights  of  importance  in 
British  and  Irish  waters  during  this  war.  Isolated  French 
squadrons  could  not  be  expected  to  make  headway  against 
the  united  navies  of  Britain  and  Holland.  William,  on 
the  contrary,  had  the  seas  wide  open  to  him,  and,  on 
June  14,  1690,  he  landed  at  Carrickfergus  with  reinforce- 
ments and  supplies  for  his  army  in  Ireland,  and  accom- 
panied by  the  Prince  of  Hesse-Darmstadt,  Prince  George 
of  Denmark,  the  Duke  of  Ormond,  the  Earls  of  Portland, 
Manchester,  Oxford,  and  Scarborough ;  General  Mackay, 
General-  Douglas,  and  many  other  warriors  well  known 

The  People's  History  of  Ireland  273 

to  British  and  Continental  fame.  He  established  head- 
quarters at  Belfast  and  caused  a  muster  of  all  his  forces, 
which  showed  him  to  be  at  the  head  of  about  40,000  men, 
mostly  veterans,  and  made  up  of  contingents  from  Scan- 
dinavia, Holland,  Switzerland,  Brandenburg,  England, 
Scotland,  Ulster,  together  with  the  exiled  Huguenot  regi- 
ments of  France  and  the  Anglo-Irish  battalions  of  the 
Pale.  Allowing  for  detachments,  William  had  under  him 
an  army  of,  at  least,  36,000  effective  men,  officered  by  the 
best  military  talent  of  the  period. 

James,  according  to  all  Irish  and  some  British  authori- 
ties, commanded  a  force  of  17,000  Irish,  of  whom  alone 
the  cavalry,  numbering,  probably,  from  five  to  six  thou- 
sand men,  were  considered  thoroughly  trained.  In  addi- 
tion, he  had  6,000  well-appointed  French  infantry,  under 
De  Lauzun,  which  brought  his  total  up  to  some  23,000 
men,  with  only  twelve  pieces  of  cannon.  William,  on  the 
other  hand,  possessed  a  powerful  and  well-appointed  artil- 
lery. Once  again,  James  was  advised  not  to  oppose  his 
comparatively  weak  and  ill-disciplined  army  to  an  en- 
counter with  the  veteran  host  of  William,  and  again  the 
advantages  of  the  defensive  line  of  the  Shannon  were 
pointed  out  to  him.  But  he  would  not  listen  to  the  voice 
of  prudence,  and  marched  northward  to  meet  his  rival,  al- 
most immediately  after  learning  of  his  debarkation  at 
Carrickfergus.  The  Stuart  army  reached  Dundalk  about 
June  22,  when  William  was  reported  to  be  at  Newry.  His 
scouts  were  soon  seen  on  the  neighboring  heights,  and  the 
Franco-Irish  forces  fell  back  on  the  river  Boyne,  and  took 
post  on  the  southern  bank,  within  a  few  miles  of  Drog- 
heda.  The  Irish  camp  was  pitched  immediately  below  the 
hill  of  Donore  and  near  the  small  village  of  Oldbridge,  in 

274  The  People's  History  of  Ireland 

the  obtuse  salient,  pointing  northwestward,  formed  by 
the  second  bend  in  the  river  in  its  course  from  Slane — 
about  six  miles  from  Oldbridge — to  the  sea.  In  the  chart 
of  the  battle,  published  by  the  Rev.  George  Story,  King 
William's  chaplain,  in  1693,  three  strong  batteries  are 
shown  in  front  of  the  right  of  the  Irish  army,  on  the 
south  bank  of  the  Boyne,  and  one  protecting  its  left  op- 
posite to  the  point  where  the  Mattock  rivulet  falls  into 
the  main  river.  But  no  Irish  account  mentions  these  bat- 
teries. Some  critics  have  thought  it  strange  that  the 
Williamites,  instead  of  making  a  long  and  tedious  move- 
ment by  Slane,  did  not  endeavor  to  attack  both  sides  of 
the  river  salient  at  once,  and  thus  place  the  Irish  army 
between  two  fires.  The  water,  apparently,  was  no  deeper 
above  than  below  the  rivulet,  but  even  were  it  deeper,  Wil- 
liam had  with  him  a  well-appointed  bridge  train,  and 
the  feeble  battery,  if  any  existed  at  all,  would  be  insuffi- 
cient to  check  the  ardor  of  his  chosen  veterans.  On  the 
summit  of  Donore  Hill,  which  slopes  backward  for  more 
than  a  mile  from  the  river,  stood  a  little  church,  with  a 
graveyard  and  some  huts  beside  it.  Even  in  1690,  it  was 
an  insignificant  ruin,  but  it  is  noted  in  Anglo-Irish  history 
as  marking  the  headquarters  of  King  James  during  the 
operations  on  the  Boyne. 

The  right  wing  of  the  Irish  army  extended  itself  to- 
ward that  smaller  part  of  Drogheda  which  is  situated  on 
the  south  bank  of  the  river,  in  the  County  Meath.  The 
centre  faced  the  fords  in  front  of  Oldbridge,  where  several 
small  shoals,  or  islands,  as  marked  in  Story's  map,  ren- 
dered the  passage  of  an  attacking  force  comparatively 
easy  of  accomplishment.  The  left  wing  stretched  in  the 
direction  of  Slane,  where  there  was  a  bridge,  and,  nearer 

The  People's  History  of  Ireland  275 

to  the  Irish  army,  a  ford  practicable  for  cavalry.  James 
was  urged  to  strengthen  this  wing  of  his  army,  sure  to  be 
attacked,  the  day  before  the  battle,  but  he  could  only  be 
induced  to  send  out  some  cavalry  patrols  to  observe  the 
ground.  When  the  tide,  which  backs  the  water  up  from 
below  Drogheda,  is  out,  many  points  on  the  river  in  front 
of  the  Irish  position  are  easily  fordable,  and  there  has 
been  little  or  no  change  in  the  volume  of  the  current  dur- 
ing the  last  two  centuries.  Therefore,  the  Boyne  pre- 
sented no  such  formidable  obstacle  to  a  successful  cross- 
ing as  some  imaginative  historians  have  sought  to  make 
out.  Neither  did  nature,  in  other  respects,  particularly 
favor  the  Irish  in  the  choice  of  their  ground.  Their  army 
occupied  a  fairly  good  defensive  position,  if  its  advantages 
had  been  properly  utilized.  King  James  interfered  with 
the  plans  of  his  generals,  as  it  was  his  habit  to  interfere 
in  every  department  of  his  government,  not  at  all  to  the 
advantage  of  the  public  service.  An  able  general,  such 
as  William  or  Schomberg  was,  might  have  made  the  Irish 
ground  secure;  that  is,  with  sufficient  cannon  to  answer 
the  formidable  park  brought  into  action  by  the  enemy. 
The  Irish  army  was  in  position  on  June  29,  and  on  the 
following  day,  King  William,  accompanied  by  his  staff 
and  escort,  appeared  on  the  opposite  heights.  His  main 
army  was  concealed  behind  the  hills  in  the  depression  now 
known  as  King  William's  Glen.  With  his  customary 
daring  activity,  the  astute  Hollander  immediately  pro- 
ceeded to  reconnoitre  the  Jacobite  position,  of  which  he 
obtained  a  good  view,  though  some  of  the  regiments  were 
screened  by  the  irregularities  of  the  ground.  Although 
within  easy  range  of  the  Irish  lines,  he  was  not  molested 
for  some  time.  Having  concluded  his  observations,  Wil- 

276  The  People's  History  of  Ireland 

Ham,  with  his  officers,  dismounted.  Lunch  was  spread 
on  the  grass  by  the  attendants,  and  the  party  proceeded  to 
regale  themselves.  They  were  allowed  to  finish  in  peace, 
but  when  they  remounted  and  turned  toward  their  camp, 
the  report  of  a  field-piece  came  from  the  Irish  side.  A 
round  shot  ricochetted  and  killed  a  member  of  the  escort. 
A  second  ball  caught  the  king  upon  the  shoulder,  tore  his 
coat  and  broke  the  skin  beneath  it.  He  fell  forward  on 
his  horse,  but  immediately  recovered  himself,  and  the 
entire  party  rode  rapidly  out  of  range.  The  Irish  officers, 
who  had  observed  the  confusion  caused  by  the  second 
shot,  imagined  that  William  had  been  killed.  The  news 
was  circulated  in  the  camp,  speedily  traveled  to  Dublin, 
and  soon  found  its  way  to  Great  Britain  and  the  Conti- 
nent. But  William  was  not  dead.  After  the  sur- 
geons had  dressed  his  wound,  he  insisted  on  again 
mounting  his  horse,  and,  like  Napoleon  when  he  was 
wounded  in  front  of  Ratisbon,  in  1809,  showed  himself 
to  the  army,  whose  shouts  of  joy  speedily  informed  the 
Irish  troops  that  their  able  enemy  was  still  in  the  saddle. 
A  brisk  cannonade,  which  did  but  little  damage,  was  then 
exchanged  between  the  two  armies.  It  was  the  noisy  pre- 
lude of  a  much  more  eventful  drama.  On  the  morrow 
was  to  be  decided  the  fate  not  alone  of  the  ancient  Stuart 
dynasty,  but  also  of  Ireland,  with  all  Europe  for  wit- 
nesses. Night  put  an  end  to  the  artillery  duel,  and  the 
hostile  hosts,  except  the  sentinels,  disposed  themselves 
to  sleep.  History  fails  to  record  the  watchward  of  King 
James's  army,  but  Chaplain  Story  is  authority  for  the 
statement  that  the  word  in  William's  camp  was  "West- 
minster." The  soldiers  on  both  sides,  to  use  the  military 
phrase,  "slept  upon  their  arms." 

The  People's  History  of  Ireland  277 


Battle  of  the  Boyne — Death  of  Marshal  Schomberg — Valor  of  Irish 
Cavalry — Inexcusable  Flight  of  King  James 

r"PUESDAY  morning,  July  i,  old  style,  dawned  beau- 
1  tifully  on  the  river  Boyne.  Both  of  the  royal  hosts 
were  drawn  out  in  all  their  bravery,  and  the  early  sun 
glittered  on  their  burnished  arms.  We  have  no  good 
account  of  their  uniforms,  but,  judging  by  prints  of  the 
period,  the  British,  in  general,  wore  scarlet  and  the  Con- 
tiental  allies  blue.  Some  of  the  French  regiments  allied 
to  the  Irish  army  wore  white  and  others  blue  coats,  which 
were  the  favorite  colors  of  the  Bourbon  kings.  The 
Irish  army  must  surely  have  worn  scarlet — the  livery  of 
the  House  of  Stuart — because,  we  are  informed  by 
George  Story  and  other  historians,  they  bore  white 
badges  in  their  hats,  to  distinguish  themselves  from  the 
Williamites,  who  wore  green  boughs  in  theirs.  The 
white  cockade,  or  rosette,  was  the  emblem  of  the  Dukes 
of  York — a  title  borne  by  James,  as  will  be  remembered, 
before  his  accession.  The  irony  of  fate,  surely,  was 
made  manifest  by  the  circumstance  of  William's  soldiers 
wearing  Ireland's  national  color,  as  now  generally  rec- 
ognized, on  the  occasion  of  her  most  fateful,  although 
not  bloodiest,  defeat. 

At  6  o'clock  A.M.,  William  took  the  initiative  by  order- 
ing above  10,000  horse  and  foot,  under  General  Douglas, 
Schomberg,  Jr.,  and  Lords  Portland  and  Overkirk,  to 
march  along  the  river  bank  toward  Slane,  cross  at,  or 
near,  that  point,  and  so  turn  the  left  flank  of  the  Irish 

278  The  People's  History  of  Ireland 

army.  This  manoeuvre  was  plainly  seen  and  understood 
by  James  and  his  lieutenants.  Sir  Neal  O'Neill,  at  the 
head  of  his  dragoons,  was  detached  to  check  the  move- 
ment. The  brave  leader  was  in  time  to  charge  the  ene- 
my's cavalry,  which  had  crossed  nearer  to  Oldbridge 
than  was  originally  designed,  as  they  had  found  a  prac- 
ticable ford.  The  main  body  crossed  higher  up,  at 
Slane.  O'Neill,  according  to  all  accounts  of  the  engage- 
ment on  this  flank  of  the  Jacobite  army,  must  have  made 
a  most  gallant  fight,  because  it  was  well  on  toward  9 
o'clock  before  the  enemy  was  able  to  secure  a  footing 
on  the  Irish  bank  of  the  Boyne,  and  then  only  after  the 
brave  O'Neill  had  been  mortally  wounded,  and  his  sur- 
viving soldiers  discouraged  by  his  fall.  Notwithstand- 
ing, the  Irish  dragoons  drew  off  the  field  in  excellent 
order,  bearing  their  dying  general  along  with  them. 
With  his  latest  breath,  O'Neill  sent  word  to  King  James 
of  how  matters  stood  on  his  left  wing,  to  which  Douglas's 
whole  imposing  force  had  now  formed  itself  perpen- 
dicularly, that  is,  at  right  angles,  threatening  not  alone 
the  left  of  the  Irish  line  of  battle,  but  also  the  rear,  or 
line  of  retreat,  on  the  pass  of  Duleek,  which  was  the 
gateway  to  Dublin.  James,  observing  this,  became  de- 
moralized. Instead  of  using  the  French  veterans  at 
Oldbridge  ford,  where  he  must  have  seen  the  main  attack 
was  to  be  delivered,  he  placed  in  the  hedges,  and  other 
defences  which  covered  it,  untried  Irish  levies,  badly 
weaponed,  brave  enough,  it  is  true,  but  at  absolute  dis- 
advantage when  placed  in  opposition  to  the  splendid  arma- 
ment and  perfect  discipline  of  William's  veterans,  many 
of  whom  had  been  in  a  score  of  pitched  battles.  Lauzun 
and  his  French  were  sent  toward  the  Irish  left,  accom- 

The  People's   History  of  Ireland  279 

panied  by  Sarsfield,  with  a  weak  squadron  of  horse. 
But  Douglas  had  formed  his  troops  in  such  strong  array 
that  Lauzun,  in  spite  of  the  direct  orders  of  King  James, 
declined  to  attack  him,  or  receive  his  attack.  Instead, 
he  manoeuvred  so  as  to  place  a  morass  between  his  troops 
and  the  enemy,  and  then  began  falling  back  on  the  pass 
of  Duleek,  fearing  to  be  outflanked  and  cut  off  by  young 
Schomberg's  powerful  cavalry.  Sarsfield,  according  to 
his  custom,  charged  the  hostile  horse  boldly,  but  his  men 
were  too  few,  and  he  was  reluctantly  compelled  to  follow 
the  retrograde  movement  of  the  French.  In  this  opera- 
tion he  lost  one  cannon,  which  got  stuck  in  the  mud  of 
a  bog  that  intervened  between  the  river  and  Donore.  At 
the  latter  point  he  rejoined  the  king.  James  seemed  to 
think  only  of  his  line  of  retreat.  Had  he  thought  of  his 
line  of  advance,  everything  might  still  have  been  recti- 
fied. His  army  remained  unshaken,  except  by  his  own 
wretched  fears.  The  dread  of  being  made  a  prisoner 
was  his  bane.  He  had  sent  most  of  the  baggage  and  half 
the  cannon  toward  Dublin  at  the  first  news  of  the  reverse 
at  Slane — a  remarkable  way  by  which  to  raise  the  spirits 
of  an  army  already  sadly  conscious  of  the  incompetency 
of  its  royal  commander,  and  its  own  inferiority  to  the 
Williamite  host  in  everything  but  ardent  zeal  and  knightly 

William,  on  learning  of  the  success  of  his  right  wing, 
immediately  ordered  Marshal  Schomberg,  at  the  head  of 
the  formidable  Dutch  guards,  two  regiments  of  Hugue- 
nots, two  of  Inniskilleners,  Sir  John  Hammer's  regi- 
ment, and  several  others  on  that  front,  including  the 
Danes,  to  ford  the  Boyne  in  hot  haste.  They  plunged 
in  bravely,  opposite  to  Oldbridge,  and  so  dense  were 

Ireland — 13  VoL  L 

280  The  People's  History  of  Ireland 

their  columns,  according  to  Chaplain  Story,  that  the 
water  rose  perceptibly.  Still  it  could  not  have  risen 
much  above  the  knees  of  the  shortest  soldier,  for  the 
historian,  Haverty — a  scrupulous  writer — says,  in  his 
admirable  work,  that  the  water  did  not  reach  to  the 
drums  of  the  bands  that  accompanied  the  attack.  The 
unseasoned  Irish  dragoons  and  infantry,  armed  with 
old  fusils  and  half-pikes,  received  the  enemy  with  a  hasty 
and  ill-directed  fire,  which  did  little  damage.  William's 
troops  replied  with  overpowering  volleys,  and  his  bat- 
teries threw  balls  into  the  defences.  It  would  seem  that 
little  was  done  at  this  point  to  rally  the  defenders,  for 
they  soon  broke  and  abandoned  the  hedges,  but  formed 
again  in  the  lanes  of  Oldbridge  and  the  fields  in  its  vicin- 
ity. The  shout  of  triumph  from  Schomberg's  men  was 
answered  by  a  roar  of  anger  that  seemed  to  come  from 
the  battle-clouds  above  the  river.  There  was  a  sound 
as  of  many  waters,  a  terrific  crashing  of  hoofs,  a  flashing 
of  sabres,  dying  groans — Richard  Hamilton,  at  the  head 
of  the  superb  Irish  cavalry,  was  among  the  Williamite 
regiments,  dealing  death-strokes  right  and  left.  Even 
the  Dutch  Blues  reeled  before  the  shock — the  Danes  and 
Huguenots  were  broken  and  driven  back  across  the 
stream.  Old  Duke  Schomberg,  in  trying  to  restore  order, 
was  killed  near  the  Irish  side  of  the  river,  and  there,  too, 
fell  Caillemotte,  the  Huguenot  hero,  and  Bishop  Walker, 
the  defender  of  Derry.  It  was  a  splendid  charge,  and, 
had  it  been  sustained  by  the  whole  Irish  army,  might 
have  saved  the  day.  But  King  James's  eyes  were  not 
turned  toward  Oldbridge  ford,  but  to  the  pass  of  Duleek. 
Fresh  bodies  of  hostile  infantry  continued  to  cross  the 
stream,  and  were  charged  and  driven  back  several  times 

The  People's  History  of  Ireland  281 

by  the  Irish  horse.    This  part  of  the  battle  began  about 
10.15  o'clock  and  continued  until  nearly  noon. 

King  William  now  took  a  hand  in  the  fight,  and  crossed 
with  most  of  his  cavalry  nearer  to  Drogheda.  It  is  said 
that  the  tide  had  risen  so  high,  he  was  obliged  to  swim 
his  horse,  which,  also,  got  "bogged"  on  the  Irish  bank, 
and  was  extricated  with  difficulty.  When  the  animal 
was  freed,  William  remounted,  and,  although  his  shoulder 
was  still  stiff  and  sore  from  contact  with  the  cannon-ball 
on  the  previous  day,  he  drew  his  sword  and  placed  him- 
self at  the  head  of  such  of  his  horse  as  had  crossed  with 
him.  He  also  rallied  some  foot-soldiers  who  had  been 
scattered  by  Hamilton's  furious  charges.  Nor  were  these 
yet  over.  Hardly  had  William  placed  his  men  in  order, 
when  Hamilton  came  down  again,  with  a  whirlwind  rush, 
and  Chaplain  Story  says,  with  great  simplicity:  "Our 
horse  were  forced  to  give  ground,  although  the  king  was 
with  them !"  William,  on  recovering  his  breath,  observed 
the  Inniskillen  regiment  of  cavalry  at  a  short  distance, 
rode  up  in  front  of  them  and  said,  in  his  blunt  fashion: 
"What  will  you  do  for  me?"  They  answered  with  a 
cheer,  and  rode  to  meet  the  Irish  cavalry,  who  were  again 
coming  on  at  a  fierce  gallop,  urged  by  Hamilton.  The 
shock  was  terrible,  but  again  the  presence  and  the  leader- 
ship of  the  warlike  William  proved  unavailing,  and  the 
Inniskilleners,  sadly  cut  up,  followed  the  routed  Wil- 
liamite  ruck  down  the  hill  toward  the  river.  Cool  in  the 
moment  of  danger,  William  of  Orange  retired  slowly 
and  managed  to  rally  some  foot  and  horse  to  his  assist- 
ance. By  this  time  more  of  his  cavalry  had  crossed, 
under  Ruvigny  and  Ginkel.  The  former  captured  some 
colors,  according  to  Story,  but  Ginkel's  force  was  routed 

282  The  People's  History  of  Ireland 

and  he,  himself,  did  not  conceal  his  vexation  at  their 
want  of  firmness.  He  kept  in  their  rear,  in  order  to  pre- 
vent them  from  bolting  at  sight  of  the  Irish  horse. 

King  James  was  urged  by  all  of  those  about  him  who 
had  regard  for  his  honor,  including  the  brave  General 
Sheldon  and  the  ever  gallant  Sarsfield,  to  place  himself 
at  the  head  of  his  reserve  of  cavalry  and  charge  full  upon 
William  as  he  ascended  toward  Donore.  The  unfortu- 
nate man,  more  of  a  moral  than  a  physical  coward,  seemed 
unable  to  collect  his  faculties ;  and,  instead  of  doing  what 
became  him,  yielded  to  the  advice  of  the  timid,  and,  even 
while  the  battle  raged  hotly  below  him,  turned  his  horse, 
and,  accompanied  by  his  disgusted  officers  and  astonished 
troopers,  rode  toward  the  pass  of  Duleek,  held  by  the 
French  and  some  of  the  Irish,  who  repulsed  every  effort 
of  General  Douglas  to  force  it.  Hamilton's  cavalry  still 
continued  to  charge  the  Williamite  advance,  and  thus  en- 
abled the  Irish  infantry  to  retire  slowly  on  Donore,  where 
the  bold  Duke  of  Berwick  rallied  them  and  presented  an 
unbroken  front  to  King  William.  Then,  in  turn,  they 
retired  toward  Duleek.  Hamilton  made  a  final  furious 
charge,  in  which  his  horse  was  killed  and  fell  upon  him. 
He  was  also  wounded  in  the  head  and  made  prisoner. 
He  was  taken  before  William,  who  said:  "Well,  sir,  is 
this  business  over  with,  or  will  your  horse  show  more 
fight?"  Hamilton  responded:  "Upon  my  honor,  sir,  I 
think  they  will."  The  king,  who  was  incensed  against 
the  general  for  having  sided  with  James  and  Tyrconnel 
against  himself,  looked  askance  at  the  gallant  prisoner 
and  muttered:  "Your  honor!  Your  honor!"  And  this 
was  all  that  passed  between  them. 

Chaplain  Story,  from  whose  book  we  have  taken  many 

The  People's  History  of  Ireland  283 

of  our  facts,  was  a  most  graphic  and  interesting  writer, 
but  a  sad  hater  of  the  Irish,  against  whom  he  seems  to 
have  borne  a  grudge,  perhaps  because  they  killed  his 
brother,  an  English  officer,  in  action.  He  never  said  a 
good  word  for  them  if  he  could  avoid  doing  so.  Yet,  in 
spite  of  this  failing,  the  truth  would  escape  him  occasion- 
ally. Many  English  writers  leave  the  impression  that 
the  Irish  army  was  defeated  at  the  Boyne  within  an  hour 
or  so  after  the  engagement  began.  We  have  seen  that 
the  first  movement  was  made  about  daylight,  and  that 
the  battle  near  Slane  opened  about  8  o'clock.  In  front 
of  Oldbridge  the  attack  was  made  at  10 115,  and  continued 
hotly  until  nearly  noon,  when  King  William  himself  took 
command,  crossed  the  river  with  his  left  wing  and  was 
bravely  checked  by  Hamilton.  Duleek  is  not  more  than 
three  miles  from  the  fords  of  Oldbridge.  Therefore,  the 
Irish  must  have  fought  very  obstinately  when  Chaplain 
Story  makes  the  following  admission  on  page  23  of  his 
"Continuation  of  the  Wars  of  Ireland"  :  "Our  army  then 
pressed  hard  upon  them,  but  meeting  with  a  great  many 
difficulties  in  the  ground,  and  being  obliged  to  pursue 
in  order,  our  horse  had  only  the  opportunity  of  cutting 
down  some  of  their  foot,  and  most  of  the  rest  got  over 
the  pass  at  Duleek ;  then  night  coming  on*  prevented  us 
from  making  so  entire  a  victory  of  it  as  could  have  been 
wished  for."  Thus,  on  the  testimony  of  this  Williamite 
partisan  and  eye-witness,  the  battle  of  the  Boyne, 
counting  from  its  inception  to  its  close,  lasted  about  fif- 
teen hours.  Evidently  the  overpowered  Irish  army  did 
not  retreat  very  fast. 

*  In  Ireland,  at  that  season,  there  is  a  strong  twilight  until  nearly 
9  o'clock. — Author. 

284  The  People's  History  of  Ireland 

We  have  already  mentioned  the  principal  men  who 
fell  on  the  Williamite  side.  On  the  Jacobite  side  there 
fell  Lords  Dungan  and  Carlingford,  Sir  Neal  O'Neill 
and  some  other  officers  of  note,  together  with  some  1,200 
rank  and  file  killed  or  wounded.  Few  prisoners  were 
taken.  Mr.  Story,  as  usual,  underestimates  William's 
loss,  when  he  places  it  at  "nigh  four  hundred."  More 
candid  English  estimates  place  it  at  nearer  a  thousand, 
and  this  was,  probably,  the  true  figure.  The  Chaplain, 
in  dwelling  on  the  casualties,  says  plaintively :  "The  loss 
of  Duke  Schomberg,  who  was  killed  soon  after  the  first 
of  our  forces  passed  the  river  near  Oldbridge,  was  much 
more  considerable  than  all  that  fell  that  day  on  both 

Drogheda,  occupied  by  an  Irish  garrison  of  1,500  men, 
surrendered,  on  summons,  the  day  after  the  battle.  Had 
their  commander  made  a  spirited  sortie  on  William's 
left  wing,  as  it  was  crossing  the  river,  good  might  have 
resulted  for  the  cause  of  James.  It  would  seem  that, 
like  himself,  many  of  his  officers  lacked  the  daring  en- 
terprise that  can  alone  win  the  smiles  of  Bellona. 

King  James,  shamefully  for  himself,  deserted  the  bat- 
tlefield, or,  rather,  the  outer  edge  of  it,  before  the  fight 
at  the  fords  was  over.  An  Irish  Protestant  poet,  the  late 
Dr.  W.  R.  Wilde,  of  Dublin,  says  of  the  incident : 

"But  where  is  James?     What!   urged  to  fly, 

Ere  quailed  his  brave  defenders! 
Their   dead    in    Oldbridge    crowded   lie, 
But  not  a  sword  surrenders !" 

He  reached  Dublin  at  9  o'clock  that  evening,  while  still 
the  Irish  army  exchanged  shots  with  William's  troops 
across  the  Nannywater  at  the  pass  of  Duleek !  Tradition 

The  People's  History  of  Ireland  285 

says  that,  meeting  Lady  Tyrconnel  at  the  Cas.tle,  he  ex- 
claimed :  "Your  countrymen  run  well,  madam !"  The 
spirited  Irishwoman  at  once  replied :  "I  congratulate 
your  Majesty  on  having  won  the  race !" 

English  historians,  in  general,  taking  their  cue  from 
Story,  are  ungenerous  to  the  Irish  in  connection  with  the 
Boyne.  English  troops  had  comparatively  little  hand  in 
obtaining  the  victory.  The  French  writers,  also,  in  or- 
der to  screen  the  misconduct,  and  possibly  treason,  of  De 
Lauzun,  seek  to  throw  all  the  blame  for  the  loss  of  the 
battle  on  their  Irish  allies.  Not  so,  many  of  the  Irish 
Protestant  writers,  whose  coreligionists  bore  a  great  deal 
of  the  brunt  of  the  fighting  on  William's  side,  and  were 
thus  enabled  to  know  the  truth.  Among  those  writers 
may  be  mentioned  Colonel  William  Blacker,  poet-laureate 
of  the  Orange  Order  in  Ireland,  who  wrote  at  the  begin- 
ning of  the  last  century,  and,  in  his  poem,  "The  Battle  of 
the  Boyne,"  gives  full  credit  to  his  Catholic  fellow-coun- 
trymen for  their  valor,  thus: 

"In  vain  the  sword  Green  Erin  draws_  and  life  away  doth  fling — 
Oh !  worthy  of  a  better  cause  and  of  a  braver  king ! 
In  vain  thy  bearing  bold  is  shown  upon  that  blood-stained  ground; 
Thy  towering  hopes  are  overthrown — thy  choicest  fall  around. 

"Hurrah !  hurrah !  the  victor  shout  is  heard  on  high  Donore ! 
Down  Plottin's  Vale,  in  hurried  rout,  thy  shattered  masses  pour. 
But  many  a  gallant  spirit  there  retreats  across  the  plain, 
Who  'change  but  kings'  would  gladly  dare  that  battlefield  again !" 

The  expression,  in  regard  to  exchanging  monarchs, 
alluded  to  in  the  ballad,  is  founded  on  a  saying  attribu- 
ted to  Sarsfield,  who.  on  being  taunted  by  a  British  officer 
at  the  Duleek  outposts  the  night  of  the  engagement,  ex- 
claimed: "Change  kings  with  us,  and  we  will  fight  the 
battle  over  again  with  you!" 

286  The  People's  History  of  Ireland 

James,  after  his  defeat,  remained  but  one  day  in  Dub- 
lin. He  summoned  the  State  Council  and  the  Lord 
Mayor,  bade  them  farewell,  and  left  the  government  of 
the  kingdom  and  the  command  of  the  army  in  the  hands 
of  Tyrconnel.  Then,  accompanied  by  a  small  staff,  he 
rode  to  Bray  and  thence  by  easy  stages  to  Waterford, 
where  he  embarked  for  France  and  reached  that  kingdom 
in  safety.  He  was  generously  received  by  King  Louis. 
In  justice  to  a  monarch  who  is  alleged  to  have  spoken 
harshly  and  unjustly  of  his  Irish  troops  and  subjects 
after  the  battle  of  the  Boyne,  we  must  state  that  his  pub- 
lished Memoirs,  as  also  those  of  his  son,  the  heroic  Duke 
of  Berwick,  bear  the  very  highest  testimony  to  the  brav- 
ery and  devotion  of  the  Irish  army,  particularly  in  deal- 
ing with  the  closing  campaign  in  Ireland,  when  it  crowned 
itself  with  glory.  Remembering  this,  we  may  join  with 
the  poet  in  saying — 

"Well,  honored  be  the  graves  that  close 

O'er  every  brave  and  true  heart, 
And  sorrows  sanctified  repose 
Thy  dust,  discrowned  Stuart !" 


Irish  Army  Retires  on  "The  Line  of  the  Shannon" — Douglas  Re- 
pulsed at  Athlone — King  William  Begins  Siege  of  Limerick 
— Sarsfield's  Exploit 

TYRCONNEL,  Sarsfield,  Berwick,  De  Lauzun,  and 
their  forces  immediately  evacuated  Dublin  and  its 
neighborhood,  and,  practically,  gave  up  all  of  Leinster 
to  the  enemy,  while  they  retired  on  the  Shannon  and 
heavily  garrisoned  Athlone,  Limerick,  and  Galway — the 
latter  a  most  important  seaport  at  that  time.  The  flight 

The  People's  History  of  Ireland  287 

of  James  demoralized  Tyrconnel,  who  was  aging  fast, 
and  further  discontented  Lauzun,  but  Sarsfield  and  Ber- 
wick remained  steadfast,  and  were  determined  not  to  give 
up  Ireland  without  a  bitter  and  bloody  struggle.  Most 
of  the  officers  agreed  with  them.  If  they  had  lost  a  king, 
their  country  still  remained,  and  they  would  defend  it  to 
the  last. 

William's  first  attempt  was  made  against  Athlone. 
which  is  the  most  central  fortified  place  in  Ireland,  situ 
ated  masterfully  on  the  river  Shannon,  the  commerce  of 
which  it  commands  for  many  miles.  The  garrison  was 
commanded  by  an  aged  veteran  of  the  Confederate  war, 
Colonel  Richard  Grace,  to  whom  fear  was  unknown. 
General  Douglas,  with  12,000  men  and  a  fine  battering 
train,  including  several  mortars,  was  detached  from  the 
Williamite  army  at  Dublin  to  attack  the  town.  He  ap- 
peared before  it  on  July  17,  and  sent  an  offensive  mes- 
sage for  immediate  surrender  to  the  governor.  Colonel 
Grace  discharged  a  pistol  over  the  head  of  the  startled 
envoy,  and  said :  "That  is  my  answer !"  The  siege  began 
when  the  messenger  returned.  Athlone,  divided  by  the 
Shannon,  is  partly  in  Westmeath  and  partly  in  Roscom- 
mon.  The  latter  portion  alone  was  defensible.  Colonel 
Grace  abandoned  the  Leinster  side,  called  "Englishtown," 
after  leveling  the  works.  He  also  destroyed  the  bridge, 
thus  confining  himself  to  "Irishtown,"  where  still  stands 
the  strong  castle.  Douglas  bombarded  it  furiously. 
Grace  responded  fiercely  and  honors  were  about  even, 
when  news  arrived  in  the  English  camp  that  Sarsfield,  at 
the  head  of  a  powerful  Irish  force,  was  en  route  from 
Limerick  to  raise  the  siege.  For  seven  days  the  English 
general  rained  balls  and  bombshells  on  Athlone,  but,  on 

288  The  People's  History  of  Ireland 

the  seventh  day,  the  indomitable  Grace  hung  out  a  red 
flag  on  the  castle,  to  indicate  that  the  fight  was  to  be  to 
a  finish,  and  that  quarter  would  be  neither  taken  nor 
given.  The  English  doubled  their  efforts  to  subdue  the 
place,  but  made  no  impression.  Finally  Douglas,  in  ab- 
ject fear  of  Sarsfield,  raised  the  siege  and  left  the  town 
amid  the  cheers  of  the  defenders  of  the  Connaught  side. 
The  garrison  and  people  gave  Governor  Grace  an  ova- 
tion, which,  indeed,  no  warrior,  young  or  old,  better 

King  William  reserved  for  himself,  as  he  thought,  the 
honor  and  pleasure  of  capturing  Limerick,  which,  in  the 
days  of  Ireton,  had  won  celebrity  by  the  obstinacy  of  its 
defence.  Toward  the  end  of  July,  1690,  he  marched 
from  the  capital,  at  the  head  of  his  main  army,  toward 
that  fortress.  He  was  joined  by  the  defeated  Douglas, 
with  his  depleted  division,  at  Caherconlish,  within  a  short 
distance  of  Limerick,  on  the  8th  of  August.  This  junc- 
tion brought  his  force  up  to  38,000  men,  not  to  speak  of 
a  siege  train  and  other  warlike  appliances.  The  Irish 
force  consisted  of  10,000  infantry  within  the  city,  and 
4,000  horse,  encamped  on  the  Clare  side  of  the  Shannon. 
There  was,  as  at  Athlone,  an  Irishtown  and  Englishtown 
— the  former  situated  on  the  Limerick  side  of  the  stream, 
and  the  latter  on  an  island,  called  King's  Island,  formed 
by  the  two  branches  of  the  great  river.  In  addition  to 
an  infantry  force,  some  regiments  of  Irish  dragoons,  in- 
tended to  fight  either  on  foot  or  horseback,  occupied  En- 
glishtown. The  defences  were  in  a  wretched  condition. 
Lauzun,  who  seems  to  have  been  the  wet  blanket  of  the 
period,  declared  that  "King  Louis  could  take  them  with 
roasted  apples."  Tyrconnel  and  he  were  for  surrender- 

The  People's  History  of  Ireland  289 

ing  the  city  "on  terms,"  but  Sarsfield,  ably  seconded  by 
the  brave  and  youthful  Duke  of  Berwick — the  best  of  the 
Stuarts — made  fierce  protest.  De  Boisseleau,  a  French 
officer  of  engineers,  who  sympathized  with  the  Irish  peo- 
ple, became  their  ally,  and  agreed  to  reconstruct  the 
works,  with  the  aid  of  the  soldiery  and  the  citizens.  De 
Lauzun,  eager  to  return  to  the  delights  of  Paris,  aban- 
doned the  city  and  marched  with  his  French  contingent 
to  Galway.  It  would  appear,  from  contemporaneous  ac- 
counts, that  his  troops  were  not  all  native  Frenchmen. 
Many  were  Swiss  and  German — a  kind  of  Foreign  Le- 
gion in  the  French  service.  Louvois,  the  elder,  at  that 
time  Louis's  Minister  of  War,  detested  Lauzun — King 
James's  appointee — and  would  not  give  him  a  corps  of 
choice  troops.  The  Swiss  and  Germans  were  coura- 
geous soldiers,  but  their  hearts  were  not  in  the  cause  they 
were  engaged  in,  and  many  of  them  deserted  to  the 
Williamites  after  the  battle  of  the  Boyne.  Lauzun  re- 
mained in  Galway  until  he  heard  of  King  William's  un- 
successful attempt  on  Limerick,  when  he  and  his  forces 
sailed  for  France,  the  old  Duke  of  Tyrconnel  accompany- 
ing them.  The  Duke,  on  reaching  Paris,  made  charges 
of  insubordination  and  general  misconduct  against  Lau- 
zun, who,  thereby,  lost  the  favor  of  the  French  monarch. 
His  downfall  followed,  and,  in  after  years,  he  was  one 
of  the  unfortunates  doomed  to  captivity  in  the  Bastile. 
He  deserves  no  sympathy,  as  his  whole  conduct  in  Ire- 
land made  him  more  than  suspected  of  having  been  a 

John  C.  O'Callaghan,  the  noted  historian  of  the  Wil- 
liamite  wars,  in  his  "Green  Book,"  written  in  refutation 
of  Voltaire,  Lord  Macaulay,  and  other  libelers  of  the 

290  The  People's  History  of  Ireland 

Irish  nation,  says  that  the  Louvois,  father  and  son,  who 
held  in  succession  the  portfolio  of  war  in  France,  during 
the  time  when  James  was  struggling  to  regain  his  crown, 
were  inimical  to  his  cause,  and  did  all  they  could  to 
thwart  the  friendly  efforts  of  King  Louis  in  his  behalf. 
Louvois,  Sr.,  it  is  explained,  wished  the  command  of  the 
French  troops  sent  to  Ireland  conferred  upon  his  son; 
but  James  preferred  Lauzun.  Thus  originated  the  feud 
which,  no  doubt,  led  to  the  utter  ruin  of  the  Stuart 
dynasty.  The  hostility  of  the  Louvois  also  explains  the 
miserable  quality  of  the  arms,  equipments,  and  clothing 
sent  by  the  French  Government  to  Ireland.  How  fatal 
a  choice  James  made  in  preferring  Lauzun  has  already  ap- 
peared. By  universal  consent,  De  Boisseleau  was  made 
military  governor  of  Limerick.  Berwick,  in  the  absence 
of  Tyrconnel,  was  recognized  as  commander-in-chief, 
mainly  because  of  his  kinship  with  the  king,  while  the 
able  and  trusty  Sarsfield  was  second  in  command,  and, 
as  will  be  seen,  did  the  lion's  share  of  the  fighting. 
King  William,  with  his  formidable  army,  arrived  within 
sight  of  Limerick  and  "sat  down  before  it"  on  August  9, 
confining  his  attentions  mostly  to  the  southern  defences 
of  Irishtown,  which  appeared  to  offer  the  most  favorable 
point  of  assault.  Although  he  had  with  him  a  powerful 
artillery,  he  did  not  hope  to  reduce  the  city  without  a 
further  supply  of  heavy  ordnance.  Before  leaving  the 
Irish  capital,  he  had  ordered  a  great  siege  train  to  be 
put  in  readiness,  so  that  it  might  reach  him  about  the 
time  he  would  be  ready  to  begin  the  investment  of  Lim- 
erick. He  knew,  therefore,  that  it  was  near  at  hand. 
But  another  soldier,  even  bolder  than  himself,  knew  also 
of  the  close  approach  of  the  siege  train  from  Dublin,  and 

The  People's  History  of  Ireland  291 

that  it  was  escorted  by  a  strong  cavalry  force.  This 
was  Sarsfield,  who,  at  the  head  of  five  hundred  chosen 
horse,  left  the  camp  on  the  Clare  side  of  the  river  on 
Sunday  night,  August  10,  rode  along  the  right  bank 
toward  Killaloe,  and,  near  that  town,  crossed  into  the 
County  Tipperary  by  a  deep  and  dangerous  ford,  seldom 
used  and  never  guarded.  He  chose  it  in  preference  to 
the  bridge  at  Killaloe,  because  the  utmost  secrecy  had 
to  be  preserved,  so  that  the  Williamites  might  have  no 
information  of  his  design  to  intercept  the  train.  His 
guide  was  a  captain  of  irregular  horse — called  Rap- 
parees — and  he  bore  the  sobriquet  of  "Galloping  O'Ho- 
gan."  Dawn  found  the  adventurous  force  in  the  neigh- 
borhood of  the  picturesque  village  of  Silvermines,  at  the 
foot  of  the  Keeper  Mountain.  In  the  deep  glen,  which 
runs  along  its  eastern  base,  Sarsfield  concealed  his  party 
all  day  of  the  nth;  but  sent  his  scouts,  under  O'Hogan, 
southward  toward  the  County  Limerick  border,  to  locate 
the  siege  train.  The  peasantry  of  the  locality  still  point 
out  the  exact  spot  where  the  Irish  general  awaited  im- 
patiently, and  anxiously,  news  from  the  scouts.  The 
horses  were  kept  saddled  up,  ready  for  immediate  action, 
and,  while  they  grazed,  the  men  held  their  bridle-reins. 
Pickets  were  posted  behind  the  crests  of  every  vantage 
point,  to  prevent  surprise,  because  the  patrols  of  King 
William's  army  were  ceaseless  in  their  vigilance  and 
might  come  upon  the  bold  raiders  at  any  moment.  The 
scouts  returned  at  nightfall  and  reported  that  the  siege 
train  and  its  escort  had  gone  into  camp  near  the  castle 
of  Ballyneety,  about  two  miles  from  the  village  of  Cul- 
len,  in  the  County  Limerick,  and  twelve  miles,  by  English 
measurement,  in  rear  of  the  Williamite  army.  Sarsfield 

292  The  People's  History  of  Ireland 

immediately  put  his  troops  in  motion,  and,  after  a  labori- 
ous journey,  reached  the  neighborhood  of  the  rock  and 
ruined  castle  of  Ballyneety  some  hours  before  daybreak. 
The  convoy,  thinking  itself  secure,  kept  a  careless  look- 
out, and,  besides,  Sarsfield,  in  some  mysterious  manner, 
secured  the  password,  which  happened  to  be  his  own 
name.  Tradition  of  the  neighborhood  says  that,  as  he 
approached  the  camp,  the  noise  of  the  horses'  hoofs 
startled  one  of  the  English  sentinels,  who,  immediately, 
leveled  his  piece  at  the  Irish  leader,  and  demanded  the 
password.  "Sarsfield  is  the  word!"  replied  the  general, 
"and  Sarsfield  is  the  man !"  Before  the  sentry  could  fire 
off  his  musket,  he  was  cloven  down,  and,  at  a  fierce  gal- 
lop, the  Irish  horse  fell  upon  the  sleeping  escort,  nearly 
all  of  whom  were  sabred  on  the  spot.  The  captured 
cannon,  charged  with  powder  to  their  full  extent,  were 
placed,  muzzle  downward,  over  a  mine  filled  with  the 
same  explosive,  and  the  tin  boats  of  a  pontoon  train, 
which  was  also  bound  for  William's  camp,  were  piled 
up  near  them.  The  Irish  force,  humanely  taking  the 
English  wounded  with  them,  drew  away  to  witness  the 
result  of  the  coming  explosion  with  greater  security. 
Soon  all  was  ready;  the  train  was  ignited,  and  cannon 
and  pontoons  were  blown  into  the  sky.  The  report  was 
heard  and  the  shock  felt  for  twenty  miles  around,  and 
startled  even  the  phlegmatic  King  William  in  his  tent. 
He  divined  at  once,  with  military  sagacity,  what  had 
taken  place.  There  was  no  mistaking  it.  Already,  on 
the  information  of  an  Irish  Williamite,  named  Manus 
O'Brien,  who  had  accidentally  encountered  Sarsfield's 
cavalcade  on  the  Clare  side,  the  king  had  sent  Sir  John 
Lanier,  with  five  hundred  dragoons,  to  the  rescue.  Sars- 

The  People's  History  of  Ireland  293 

field  eluded  the  latter  and  got  back  to  his  camp,  recross- 
ing  the  Shannon  much  higher  up  than  Killaloe,  without 
the  loss  of  a  man.  When  the  news  was  confirmed  to 
King  William,  by  General  Lanier,  he  said,  simply,  "It 
was  a  bold  movement.  I  did  not  think  Sarsfield  capable 
of  it."  Some  authors  affirm  that  Sarsfield  himself  said 
to  a  wounded  English  officer,  whom  he  had  captured, 
"If  this  enterprise  had  failed,  I  should  have  gone  to 
France."  He.  was  destined  to  do  other  stout  service  for 
Ireland  before  he  finally  shed  his  life-blood  for  the  French 
lilies  on  a  Belgian  battlefield. 

294  The  People's  History  of  Ireland 


William's  Assault  on  Limerick  Repulsed  with  Slaughter — Heroism 
of  the  Irish  Women — Irish  Humanity  to  the  English  Wounded 

WILLIAM  was  not  discouraged  by  the  loss  of  his 
siege  material.  He  found  that  two  of  the  cannon 
captured  by  Sarsfield  had  failed  to  explode.  Some  heavy 
pieces,  with  mortars,  also  reached  him,  within  a  few 
days,  from  Waterford,  and  these,  with  the  ordnance  he 
had  brought  with  him  from  Dublin,  made  a  formidable 
array  of  breach-producing  engines.  The  siege,  accord- 
ingly, was  vigorously  pressed,  as  against  the  Irishtown 
and  King's  Island,  but  hardly  any  demonstration  was 
made  against  the  Clare  section,  connected  with  Limerick 
by  Thomond  bridge,  probably  because  of  the  loss  of  the 
pontoon  train. 

The  Irish  soldiery  and  the  citizens  of  Limerick,  encour- 
aged by  De  Boisseleau,  Berwick,  and  Sarsfield,  had  made 
considerable  improvement  in  the  defences  of  Limerick 
before  William  came  up,  and,  even  after  his  arrival,  con- 
tinued to  repair  the  breaches  made  in  the  walls  by  his 
cannon.  Their  batteries  vigorously  replied  to  those  of 
the  enemy,  although  much  inferior  in  number  and  weight 
of  metal,  and  the  Williamites  suffered  quite  heavy  losses 
in  officers  and  rank  and  file.  The  Irish  leaders  had  sent 
many  non-combatants  to  the  safer  side  of  the  Shannon, 
but  most  of  the  women  refused  to  leave  and  worked  at 
the  earthworks  like  the  men.  Many  of  them  were  killed 
by  the  English  fire  while  so  occupied. 

At  last,  on  the  morning  of  August  27,  the  Williamite 

The  People's  History  of  Ireland  295 

engineers  declared  the  breach  in  the  neighborhood  of  St. 
John's  Gate  and  the  Black  Battery  on  the  south  side  of 
the  town  practicable.  Some  authorities  say  it  was  twelve 
yards  wide,  and  others,  including  Thomas  Davis,  one  of 
Ireland's  most  accurate  writers,  six  perches,  which  would 
make  quite  a  difference.  Five  hundred  British  grena- 
diers, drawn  from  the  right  flank  companies  of  the  line 
regiments,  as  was  then  and  for  long  afterward  the  cus- 
tom, constituted  the  forlorn  hope.  Their  immediate  re- 
serves were  a  battalion  of  the  Blue  Dutch  Guards — the 
heroes  of  the  Boyne — and  the  regiments  of  Douglas,  Stu- 
art, Meath,  Lisburn,  and  Brandenburg.  The  whole 
army  stood  ready  to  support  these  picked  trocps.  The 
signal,  three  cannon  shots,  was  given  from  Cromwell's 
Fort,  where  William  witnessed  the  operation,  at  3.30  P.M. 
Story  tells  us  the  day  was  torrid.  The  orders  to  the 
stormers  were  to  seize  the  Irish  counterscarp — the  exte- 
rior slope  of  the  ditch — and  maintain  it.  The  assault  was 
delivered  with  great  spirit,  the  grenadiers  leaping  out  of 
their  trenches,  advancing  at  a  run,  firing  their  pieces  and 
throwing  their  hand  grenades  among  the  Irish  in  the 
works.  The  attack  was  fierce  and  sudden — almost  in  the 
nature  of  a  surprise — but  the  Irish  met  it  boldly,  for, 
says  Chaplain  Story,  in  his  thrilling  narrative  of  the 
event,  "they  had  their  guns  all  ready  and  discharged  great 
and  small  shot  on  us  as  fast  as  'twas  possible.  Our  men 
were  not  behind  them  in  either,  so  that,  in  less  than  two 
minutes,  the  noise  was  so  terrible  that  one  would  have 
thought  the  very  skies  ready  to  rent  in  sunder.  This  was 
seconded  with  dust,  smoke,  and  all  the  terrors  the  art  of 
man  could  invent  to  ruin  and  undo  one  another;  and,  to 
make  it  more  uneasie,  the  day  itself  was  so  excessive  hot 

296  The  People's  History  of  Ireland 

to  the  bystanders,  and  much  more,  sure,  in  all  re- 
spects to  those  upon  action.  Captain  Carlile,  of  my  Lord 
Drogheda's  regiment,  ran  on  with  his  grenadiers  to  the 
counterscarp,  and  tho'  he  received  two  wounds  between 
that  and  the  trenches,  yet  he  went  forward  and  com- 
manded his  men  to  throw  in  their  grenades,  but  in  the 
leaping  into  the  dry  ditch  below  the  counterscarp  an 
Irishman  below  shot  him  dead.  Lieutenant  Barton,  how- 
ever, encouraged  the  men  and  they  got  upon  the  counter- 
scarp, and  all  the  rest  of  the  grenadiers  were  as  ready 
as  they." 

It  would  seem  that,  at  this  point  of  the  attack, 
some  of  the  Irish  soldiers  began  to  draw  off  and 
made  for  the  breach,  which  the  Williamites  entered 
with  them.  Half  of  the  Drogheda  regiment  and 
some  others  actually  got  into  the  town.  The  city 
seemed  nearly  won,  as  the  supports  came  up  promptly  to 
the  assistance  of  their  comrades.  But  the  Irish  troops 
rallied  immediately  and  fell  vehemently  on  their  pur- 
suers. These,  in  their  turn,  retreated  from  the  breach, 
"but  some  were  shot,  some  were  taken,  and  some  came 
out  again,  but  very  few  without  being  wounded."  The 
Williamite  chaplain  thus  describes  the  outcome,  still  pre- 
serving his  tone  of  contemptuous  hatred  of  the  brave 
Irish  soldiery:  "The  Irish  then  ventured  (sic}  upon  the 
breach  again,  and  from  the  walls  and  every  place  so 
pestered  us  upon  the  counterscarp,  that  after  nigh  three 
hours  resisting  bullets,  stones  (broken  bottles  from  the 
very  women,  who  boldly  stood  in  the  breach  and  were 
nearer  our  men  than  their  own),  and  whatever  ways 
could  be  thought  on  to  destroy  us,  our  ammunition  being 
spent,  it  was  judged  safest  to  return  to  our  trenches! 

The  People's   History  of  Ireland  297 

When  the  work  was  at  the  hottest,  the  Brandenburg 
regiment  (who  behaved  themselves  very  well)  were  got 
upon  the  Black  Battery,  where  the  enemies'  powder  hap- 
pened to  take  fire  and  blew  up  a  great  many  of  them,  the 
men,  fagots,  stones,  and  what  not  flying  into  the  air  with 
a  most  terrible  noise  .  .  ,  From  half  an  hour  after 
three,  until  after  seven,  there  was  one  continued  fire  of 
both  great  and  small  shot,  without  any  intermission;  in 
so  much  that  the  smoke  that  went  from  the  town  reached 
in  one  continued  cloud  to  the  top  of  a  mountain  [Keeper 
Hill,  most  likely]  at  least  six  miles  off.  When  our  men 
drew  off,  some  were  brought  up  dead,  and  some  without 
a  leg;  others  wanted  arms,  and  some  were  blind  with 
powder;  especially  a  great  many  of  the  poor  Branden- 
burgers  looked  like  furies,  with  the  misfortune  of  gun- 
powder .  .  .  The  king  [William]  stood  nigh  Crom- 
well's Fort  all  the  time,  and  the  business  being  over,  he 
went  to  his  camp  very  much  concerned,  as,  indeed,  was 
the  whole  army;  for  you  might  have  seen  a  mixture  of 
anger  and  sorrow  in  every  bodie's  countenance.  The 
Irish  had  two  small  field-pieces  planted  in  the  King's  Isl- 
and, which  flankt  their  own  counterscarp,  and  in  our  at- 
tack did  us  no  small  damage,  as  did,  also,  two  guns  more 
that  they  had  planted  within  the  town,  opposite  to  the 
breach  and  charged  with  cartridge  shot. 

"We  lost,  at  kast,  five  hundred  on  the  spot,  and  had 
a  thousand  more  wounded,  as  I  understood  by  the  sur- 
geons of  our  hospitals,  who  are  the  properest  judges. 
The  Irish  lost  a  great  many  by  our  cannon  and  other 
ways,  but  it  can  not  be  supposed  that  their  loss  should 
be  equal  to  ours,  since  it  is  a  much  easier  thing  to  defend 
walls  than  'tis  by  plain  strength  to  force  people  from 

298  The  People's  History  of  Ireland 

them,  and  one  man  within  has  the  advantage  of  four 

Mr.  Story  acknowledges  fifty-nine  officers  of  the  En- 
glish regiments  engaged  killed  and  wounded.  Fifteen 
died  upon  the  ground  and  several  afterward  of  their  in- 
juries. "The  Grenadiers  are  not  here  included,"  con- 
tinues the  English  annalist,  "and  they  had  the  hottest 
service ;  nor  are  there  any  of  the  foreigners,  who  lost  full 
as  many  as  the  English." 

We  have  quoted  this  English  authority,  prejudiced 
though  he  was,  because  the  testimony  of  an  eye-witness 
is  much  more  valuable  than  the  allegations  of  writers 
who  give  their  information  at  second  hand.  We  may 
add,  however,  that  all  Irish  historians  have  declared  that 
the  Black  Battery  was  mined  for  such  an  emergency  as 
destroyed  the  Brandenburg  regiment,  and  some  of  them 
assert  that  Sarsfield,  in  person,  fired  the  mine.  As  he 
was  the  Ajax  of  the  campaign,  on  the  Irish  side,  it 
seems  quite  natural  that  every  extraordinary  feat  of  skill 
or  valor  should  have  been  credited  to  him.  His  own 
merits  made  him  the  idol  of  his  people,  and  he  was 
farther  endeared  to  them,  as  being  the  son  of  Anna 
O'More,  daughter  of  the  famous  organizer  of  the  Irish 
insurrection  of  1641.  On  the  paternal  side,  he  was  of 
Norman  stock.  His  father  had  been  a  member  of  the 
Irish  House  of  Commons,  and  was  proscribed  and  exiled 
because  he  had  sided  with  the  patriots  in  the  Parlia- 
mentary wars.  General  Sarsfield — the  rank  he  held  at 
the  first  siege  of  Limerick — had  seen  hot  service  on  the 
Continent,  during  the  early  part  of  his  career,  and  com- 
manded a  regiment  of  th'e  royal  cavalry  at  the  battle  of 
Sedgemoor,  where  the  unfortunate  Duke  of  Monmouth 

1  he  People's  History  of  Ireland  299 

met  with  his  fatal  defeat  at  the  hands  of  Lord  Fever- 
sham.  In  stature,  he  was  tall — considerably  over  six 
feet — fair  and  strikingly  handsome.  His  flowing  wig — 
in  the  queer  fashion  of  the  period — fell  in  massive  ring- 
lets over  the  corselet  of  a  cuirassier,  and,  in  the  rush  of 
battle,  he  must  have  been  the  counterpart  of  Murat,  Na- 
poleon's "Emperor  of  Dragoons."  Irish  poets  have  called 
him  "headlong  Sarsfield."  "Long-headed  Sarsfield"  would 
have  been  a  better  sobriquet,  for,  had  his  advice  been 
taken  by  his  royal  master  and  the  generals  sent  by  the 
latter  to  command  over  him,  Ireland  would  never  have 
bowed  her  head  to  the  yoke  of  William.  Even  the  most 
envenomed  of  English  historians  against  the  adherents 
of  King  James — including  Lord  Macaulay — do  ample 
justice  to  the  courage,  talents,  and  virtues  of  Patrick 

The  heroic  women  of  Limerick,  who  fought  and  bled 
in  the  breach,  are  complimented  by  Chaplain  Story,  as 
we  have  seen,  at  the  expense  of  their  countrymen,  but 
the  glorious  military  record  of  the  Irish  race  in  the  wars 
of  Europe  and  of  this  continent,  since  that  period,  would 
make  any  defence  of  the  conduct  of  the  heroes  of  Lim- 
erick-breach superfluous.  The  women,  too,  deserve  im- 
mortal honor;  because,  in  defence  of  their  country  and 
hearthstones,  they  dared  the  storm  of  war,  and  "stalked 
with  Minerva's  step  where  Mars  might  quake  to  tread." 

The  Irish  loss  in  killed  and  wounded  was  about  four 
hundred.  Many  lives,  on  both  sides,  were  lost  by  sick- 
ness— dysentery  and  enteric  fever  chiefly — during  this 
siege.  A  conservative  estimate  places  William's  loss, 
by  wounds  and  sickness,  at  5,000,  and  the  Irish  at  3,000. 

The  day  after  his  bloody  repulse,  King  William  sent  a 

300  The  People's  History  of  Ireland 

flag  of  truce  to  De  Boisseleau  asking  the  privilege  of 
burying  his  dead.  After  consultation  with  Berwick  and 
Sarsfield,  the  French  governor  refused  the  request,  as  he 
suspected  a  ruse  of  some  kind  behind  it.  All  the  dead 
were  buried  by  the  Irish  as  quickly  as  possible,  because 
the  heat  was  intense,  and,  aside  from  feelings  of  human- 
ity, they  dreaded  a  plague  from  the  decomposition  of  the 
corpses  left  above  ground.  We  are  informed  by  the  late 
Mr.  A.  M.  Sullivan,  M.P.,  in  his  admirable  "Story  of 
Ireland,"  that,  during  the  pursuit  by  the  Irish  of  King 
William's  men  from  the  breach  to  their  trenches,  the 
temporary  hospital  established  by  the  king  for  his 
wounded  caught  fire.  The  Irish  troops  immediately 
paused  in  their  fierce  pursuit,  and  devoted  themselves  to 
saving  their  helpless  foes  in  the  hospital,  who,  otherwise, 
must  have  perished  miserably  in  the  flames. 

King  William,  after  carefully  considering  the  situa- 
tion, and  taking  counsel  with  his  chief  officers,  decided 
that  there  was  no  hope  of  capturing  Limerick  that  year. 
Therefore,  he  declared  the  siege  raised — that  is,  aban- 
doned— and,  on  August  3Oth,  the  entire  Williamite  army 
drew  off  from  before  Limerick,  posting  strong  rear- 
guards at  points  of  vantage,  so  as  to  baffle  pursuit.  The 
king,  leaving  Baron  De  Ginkel  in  command,  retired  to 
Waterford.  There  he  embarked  for  England,  bidding 
Ireland  what  proved  to  be  an  eternal  farewell.  Although 
this  gloomy  monarch  was  not  quite  as  ferocious  as  some 
of  -his  .contemporaries,  and  was  a  marked  improvement 
on  Cromwell,  Ireton,  and  Ludlow  in  Ireland,  he  is 
charged,  by  careful  Irish  historians — like  McGee,  O'Cal- 
laghan,  and  Sullivan — with  having,  like  his  lieutenant, 
General  Douglas,  permitted  many  outrages  on  the  peo- 

The  People's  History  of  Ireland  301 

pie,  both  in  person  and  property,  on  his  march  from 
Dublin  to  Limerick.  Making  due  allowance  for  the  diffi- 
culty of  restraining  a  mercenary  army,  filled  with  hatred 
of  the  people  they  moved  among,  from  committing  ex- 
cesses, it  is  regrettable  that  the  martial  renown  of  William 
of  Orange  is  sullied  by  this  charge  of  cruelty  in  Ireland, 
as,  afterward,  in  connection  with  the  foul  massacre  of 
the  Macdonalds  of  Glencoe  in  Scotland.  Brave  men  are 
rarely  cruel,  but  we  fear,  in  these  instances,  William  was 
an  exception  to  the  rule. 

The  story  of  the  first  defence  of  Limerick,  in  the  Wil- 
liamite  war,  reads  like  a  chapter  from  a  military  romance, 
and  yet  it  was,  indeed,  a  stern  and  bloody  reality.  It 
was,  in  truth,  a  magnificent  defence  against  a  powerful 
foe,  not  surpassed  even  by  that  of  Saragossa  against  the 
French.  Limerick,  like  Saragossa,  was  defended  by  the 
citizens,  men  and  women,  quite  as  much  as  by  the  sol- 
diery. All  took  equal  risks,  as  in  the  case  of  London- 
derry. The  latter  was  also  a  brilliant  defence — more, 
however,  in  the  matter  of  splendid  endurance  than  in 
hand-to-hand  conflict.  Londonderry  wears  the  crown 
for  fortitude  and  tenacity — Limerick  and  Saragossa  for 
heroic  prowess  and  matchless  courage. 

302  The  People's  History  of  Ireland 


Fall  of  Cork  and  Kinsale — Lauzun,  the  French  General,  Accused  by 

Irish  Writers — Sarsfield's  Popularity — Tyrconnel  Returns 

to  Ireland — Berwick  Departs 

THE  successful  defence  of  Limerick  by  the  Irish  was 
somewhat  offset  in  the  following  month  of  Septem- 
ber by  the  victorious  expedition  from  England,  against 
Cork  and  Kinsale,  led  by  John  Churchill,  afterward 
Duke  of  Marlborough,  the  greatest  general  of  that  age. 
Cork,  under  the  military  governor,  McEligott,  defended 
itself  vigorously  during  a  siege  of  five  days,  but  the  de- 
fences and  garrison  were  both  weak,  and,  eventually,  the 
city  capitulated  on  honorable  conditions.  These  were 
subsequently  violated  by  some  soldiers  and  camp-follow- 
ers of  the  English  army,  but  Marlborough  suppressed,  in 
as  far  as  he  could,  the  disorders  as  soon  as  he  heard  of 
them.  The  English  lost  the  Duke  of  Grafton — natural 
son  of  Charles  II — and  many  other  officers  and  private 
men  during  the  siege.  Marlborough,  with  characteristic 
promptitude,  moved  at  once  on  Kinsale.  The  old  town 
and  fort,  not  being  defensible,  were,  after  some  show  of 
resistance,  abandoned  by  the  Irish  troops,  who  took  post 
in  the  new  fort,  commanding  the  harbor,  which  they  held 
with  creditable  tenacity,  during  fourteen  days.  They, 
at  last,  capitulated,  their  ammunition  having  run  low, 
and  were  allowed,  in  recognition  of  their  valor,  to  retire 
to  Limerick,  the  garrison  in  that  city  being  thus  aug- 
mented by  1,200  tried  warriors.  Marlborough  accom- 
plished his  task  within  five  weeks,  and  returned  to  Eng- 

The  People's  History  of  Ireland  303 

land  a  popular  idol.  The  loss  of  Cork  and  Kinsale,  par- 
ticularly the  latter,  was  a  severe  blow  to  the  Irish  army, 
as  it  was,  thereby,  deprived  of  the  most  favorable  sea- 
ports by  which  supplies  from  France  could  reach  it.  It 
should  have  been  stated  that  Marlborough,  in  the  capture 
of  those  towns,  was  materially  assisted  by  the  English 
fleet.  His  army  was  a  very  formidable  one,  consisting 
of  9,000  picked  men  from  England,  and  a  detachment, 
nearly  equal  in  numbers,  which  joined  him,  under  the 
Duke  of  Wurtemburg  and  General  Scravenmore.  The 
latter  body  consisted  of  troops  who  had  fought  at  the 
Boyne  and  Limerick.  Wurtemburg,  on  account  of  his 
connection  with  royalty,  claimed  the  command  in  chief. 
Marlborough,  who  was  as  great  a  diplomat  as  he  was  a 
general,  agreed  to  command  alternately,  but  he  was,  all 
through  the  operations,  the  real  commander.  Students 
of  history  will  remember  that,  in  after  wars  on  the  Con- 
tinent, Marlborough  and  Prince  Eugene  of  Savoy  com- 
manded on  alternate  days.  But  there  was  a  great  differ- 
ence in  this  case,  Eugene  having  been  regarded  as  nearly 
as  good  a  general  as  Marlborough  himself. 

O'Callaghan  attributes  the  failure  of  the  main  Irish 
army  to  succor  the  Cork  and  Kinsale  garrisons  to  the  mis- 
conduct of  Lauzun  in  deserting  Ireland,  with  his  remain- 
ing 5,000  French  troops,  at  this  critical  period.  He 
quotes  King  James's  and  Berwick's  memoirs,  the  Raw- 
don  papers,  and  other  authorities,  to  show  that  the  Duke 
of  Berwick  had  advanced  with  7,000  men  as  far  as  Kil- 
mallock,  in  Limerick  County,  to  raise  the  siege  of  Cork, 
when  he  found  himself  destitute  of  cannon,  which  had 
been  carried  off  by  the  French  general,  and  could  not  ex- 
pose his  inferior  force,  destitute  of  artillery,  to  the  formi- 

Ireland— 14.  Vol.  I. 

304  The  People's  History  of  Ireland 

dable  force  under  his  uncle,  Marlborough.  He  was, 
therefore,  most  reluctantly  compelled  to  abandon  the  en- 
terprise. Lauzun,  it  is  further  claimed,  carried  off  most 
of  the  powder  stored  in  Limerick,  and,  had  it  not  been  for 
Sarsfield's  exploit  at  Ballyneety,  that  city  must  have  fallen 
if  a  second  assault  had  been  delivered  by  William,  as  only 
fifty  barrels  of  powder  remained  after  the  fight  of  August 

The  autumn  and  winter  of  169091  were  marked  by 
constant  bloody  skirmishes  between  the  cavalry  and  in- 
fantry outposts  of  the  two  armies.  Hardly  a  day  passed 
without  bloodshed.  Considerable  ferocity  was  exhibited 
by  both  parties,  and  neither  seemed  to  have  much  the 
advantage  of  the  other.  Story's  narrative  of  this  period 
is  one  unbroken  tale  of  disorder  and  strife.  His  narra- 
tion, if  taken  without  a  grain  of  salt,  would  lead  us  to 
believe  that  nearly  all  the  able-bodied  Celtic-Irish  were 
put  to  the  sword,  at  sight,  by  his  formidable  country- 
men and  their  allies,  although  he  does  admit,  occasion- 
ally, that  the  Irish  succeeded  in  killing  a  few,  at  least, 
of  their  enemies.  The  most  considerable  of  these  lesser 
engagements  occurred  between  Sarsfield  and  the  Duke 
of  Berwick  on  the  Irish  side  and  General  Douglas  and 
Sir  John  Lanier  on  the  side  of  the  Williamites.  The 
Irish  leaders  made  an  attack  on  Birr  Castle  in  Septem- 
ber, and  were  engaged  in  battering  it,  when  the  English, 
under  Lanier,  Douglas,  and  Kirk,  marched  to  relieve  it. 
They  were  too  many  for  Berwick  and  Sarsfield,  who 
retired  on  Banagher,  where  there  is  a  bridge  over  the 
Shannon.  The  English  pursued  and  made  a  resolute  at- 
tempt to  take  the  bridge,  but  the  Irish  defended  it  so 
steadily,  and  with  such  loss  to  the  enemy,  that  the  latter 

The  People's  History  of  Ireland  305 

abandoned  the  attempt  at  capture  and  retired  to  Birr. 
Sarsfield  possessed  one  great  advantage  over  all  the 
higher  officers  of  King  James's  army.  He  could  speak 
the  Irish.  (Gaelic)  language  fluently,  having  learned  it 
from  the  lips  of  his  mother,  Anna  O'More.  This  gave 
him  vast  control  over  the  Celtic  peasantry,  who  fully 
trusted  him,  as  he  did  them,  and  they  kept  him  informed 
of  all  that  was  passing  in  their  several  localities.  The 
winter  was  exceptionally  severe — so  much  so  that,  at 
some  points,  the  deep  and  rapid  Shannon  was  all  but 
frozen  across.  Besides,  there  were  several  bridges  that, 
if  carelessly  guarded,  could  be  easily  surprised  and  taken 
by  the  invaders.  Sarsfield's  Celtic  scouts,  in  December, 
observed  several  parties  of  British  cavalry  moving  along 
the  banks  of  the  river.  Their  suspicions  were  excited, 
and  they,  at  once,  communicated  with  their  general. 
The  latter  had  no  sooner  taken  the  alarm  than  one  En- 
glish force,  under  Douglas,  showed  itself  at  Jamestown, 
and  another,  under  Kirk  and  Lanier,  at  Jonesboro.  The 
English  commanders  were  astonished  at  finding  the  Irish 
army  prepared  to  receive  them  warmly  at  both  points. 
After  severe  skirmishing,  they  withdrew.  The  cold  had 
become  so  severe  that  foreign  troops  were  almost  useless, 
while  the  Irish  became,  if  possible,  more  alert.  Sarsfield, 
at  the  head  of  his  formidable  cavalry,  harassed  the  re- 
treat of  the  Williamites  to  their  winter  quarters. 

The  Duke  of  Tyrconnel,  who  had,  according  to  O'Cal- 
laghan,  and  other  annalists,  sailed  from  Galway  with 
Lauzun,  and,  according  to  other  authorities  from  Lim- 
erick, with  De  Boisseleau,  after  William's  repulse,  re- 
turned from  France,  in  February,  accompanied  by  three 
men-of-war  well  laden  with  provisions.  They  carried 

306  The  People's  History  of  Ireland 

but  few  arms  and  no  reinforcements,  but  the  aged  duke, 
who  seeemed  to  be  in  good  spirits,  said  that  the  latter 
would  speedily  follow.  The  amount  of  money  he  brought 
with  him  was  comparatively  insignificant — only  14,000 
louis  d'or — which  he  devoted  to  clothing  for  the  army, 
as  most  of  the  men  were  nearly  in  rags,  and  had  received 
no  pay  in  many  months.  He  had  deposited  10,000  louis, 
additional,  at  Brest  for  the  food  supply  of  the  troops. 

He  found  unholy  discord  raging  in  the  Irish  ranks. 
Sarsfield  had  discovered  that  some  members  of  the  Sen- 
ate, or  Council,  appointed  by  Tyrconnel  before  he  left 
for  France,  had  been  in  treasonable  correspondence  with 
the  enemy,  and  that  this  treachery  had  led  to  the  attempt 
at  the  passage  of  the  Shannon  made  by  the  English  in 
December.  The  Council  consisted  of  sixteen  members, 
four  from  each  province,  and  was  supposed  to  have 
supreme  direction  of  affairs.  Through  the  influence  of 
Sarsfield,  Lord  Riverston  and  his  brother,  both  of  whom 
were  strongly  suspected  of  treason,  were  dismissed  from 
that  body,  and  Judge  Daly,  another  member,  whose  hon- 
esty was  doubted,  was  placed  under  arrest  in  the  city  of 
Galway.  A  difference  had  also  arisen  between  Sarsfield 
and  Berwick,  although  they  were  generally  on  good 
terms,  because  the  former  did  not  always  treat  the  latter 
with  the  deference  due  an  officer  higher  in  rank.  Ber- 
wick was  an  admirable  soldier,  but  he  lacked  Sarsfield's 
experience,  and,  naturally,  did  not  understand  the  Irish 
people  quite  as  well  as  the  native  leader  did.  In  fact, 
Sarsfield  was  the  hero  of  the  time  in  the  eyes  of  his 
countrymen,  and,  had  he  been  unduly  ambitious,  might 
have  deposed  Berwick,  or  even  Tyrconnel,  and  made 
himself  dictator.  But  he  was  too  good  a  patriot  and 

The  People's  History  of  Ireland  307 

true  a  soldier  to  even  harbor  such  a  thought.  After  all 
his  splendid  services,  he  was  ungratefully  treated.  He 
deserved  the  chief  command,  but  it  was  never  given  him, 
and  he  received,  instead,  the  barren  title  of  Earl  of  Lucan, 
the  patent  of  which  had  been  brought  over  from  James 
by  Tyrconnel.  But  it  was  gall  and  wormwood  for  Sars- 
field  to  learn  from  the  duke  that  a  French  commander-in- 
chief,  Lieutenant-General  the  Marquis  de  St.  Ruth,  had 
been  chosen  by  Louis  and  James  to  take  charge  of  mili- 
tary matters  in  Ireland  forthwith.  Already  he  ranked 
below  Tyrconnel  and  Berwick,  although  having  much 
more  ability  than  the  two  combined,  as  he  had  proven  on 
many  occasions. 

General  St.  Ruth,  if  we  are  to  believe  Lord  Macaulay 
and  other  Williamite  partisans,  was  more  distinguished 
for  fierce  persecution  of  the  French  Protestants,  called 
Huguenots,  than  anything  else  in  his  career.  He  had 
served  in  the  French  army,  in  all  its  campaigns,  under 
Turenne,  Catinat,  and  other  celebrated  soldiers,  since 
1667,  and,  while  yet  in  vigorous  middle  life,  had  won 
the  rank  of  lieutenant-general.  He  had  married  the 
widow  of  old  Marshal  De  Meilleraye,  whose  page  he  had 
been  in  his  boyhood,  and,  according  to  St.  Simon's  gos- 
sipy memoirs,  the  couple  led  a  sort  of  cat-and-dog  ex- 
istence, the  king  having  been  often  compelled  to  inter- 
fere between  them.  Of  St.  Ruth's  person,  St.  Simon 
says:  "He  was  tall  and  well-formed,  but,  as  everybody 
knew,  extremely  ugly."  The  same  authority  says  the 
general  was  "of  a  brutal  temper,"  and  used  to  baton  his 
wife  whenever  she  annoyed  him.  It  is  well  known  that 
St.  Simon  was  a  venomous  detractor  of  those  who  had 
incurred  his  resentment,  or  that  of  his  friends,  and  this 

308  The  People's  History  of  Ireland 

may  account  for  his  uncomplimentary  references  to  St. 
Ruth.  Irish  tradition  says  that  the  latter  was  hard-fea- 
tured, but  of  commanding-  person,  with  a  piercing  glance 
and  a  voice  like  a  trumpet.  It  is  certain  that  he  had  an 
imperious  disposition  and  was  quick  to  fly  into  a  rage. 
When  appointed  to  the  command  in  Ireland,  he  had  just 
returned  from  a  successful  campaign  in  Savoy,  where 
Mountcashel's  Irish  Brigade,  as  already  stated,  had 
formed  a  portion  of  his  victorious  forces.  He  had  learned 
to  appreciate  Irish  courage  and  constancy  during  that 
campaign,  and  was,  on  that  account  as  much  as  any  other, 
deemed  the  fit  man  to  lead  the  Irish  soldiers  on  their  own 
soil  to  victory. 

Tyrconnel  had  accepted  St.  Ruth  from  Louis  and 
James,  because  he  could  not  help  himself,  and,  also,  be- 
cause he  was  jealous  of  Sarsfield.  The  viceroy  was  no 
longer  popular  in  Ireland.  He  was  aged,  infirm,  and 
incompetent,  and  it  would  seem  his  temper  had  grown  so 
bad  that  he  could  not  get  along  peaceably  with  anybody. 
One  faction  from  the  Irish  camp  had  sent  representa- 
tives to  James  in  the  palace  of  St.  Germain,  begging  that 
Tyrconnel  be  recalled  and  the  command  placed  in  the 
hands  of  Sarsfield.  But  Tyrconnel,  because  of  old  as- 
sociation, was  all-powerful  with  the  exiled  king,  and  his 
cause,  therefore,  prevailed.  Soon  afterward  the  gallant 
Duke  of  Berwick,  who  subsequently  won  the  battle  of 
Almanza  and  placed  Philip  V — King  Louis's  grandson 
— on  the  throne  of  Spain,  unable  to  agree  with  either 
Tyrconnel  or  Sarsfield,  was  relieved  of  command  in  Ire- 
land and  joined  his  father  in  France.  This  was  an  addi- 
tional misfortune  for  Ireland.  Berwick,  the  nephew  of 
the  great  Duke  of  Marlborough,  was,  both  by  nature  and 

The  People's  History  of  Ireland  309 

training,  a  thorough  soldier.  He  was  the  very  soul  of 
bravery,  and  could  put  enthusiasm  into  an  Irish  army  by 
his  dashing  feats  of  arms.  He  was  missed  in  the  subse- 
quent battles  and  sieges  of  that  war.  His  career  in  the 
French  army  was  long  and  brilliant.  After  rising  to  the 
rank  of  marshal,  he  was  killed  by  a  cannon  shot  while 
superintending  the  siege  of  Philipsburgh,  in  1734.  The 
aristocratic  French  family  of  Fitzjames  is  lineally  de- 
scended from  the  Duke  of  Berwick,  and  that  house,  al- 
though of  illegitimate  origin,  represents  the  male  Stuart 
line,  just  as  the  House  of  Beaufort,  in  England,  repre- 
sents, with  the  bend  sinister  shadowing  its  escutcheon, 
the  male  line  of  the  Plantagenets.  Strange  to  say,  the 
Duke  of  Berwick's  great  qualities  as  a  general  were  not 
even  suspected  by  his  associates,  either  French,  English, 
or  Irish,  in  Ireland.  When  Tyrconnel  left  him  in  com- 
mand, leading  officers  of  the  Irish  army  declared  that  they 
would  not  serve,  unless  he  consented  to  be  governed  by 
a  council  more  national  in  composition  than  that  nomi- 
nated by  Tyrconnel.  After  some  strong  protests,  Ber- 
wick yielded  the  point,  but  never  afterward  made  any 
attempt  at  bona-fide  command.  He  felt  that  he  was  but 
a  figurehead,  and  was  glad  when  Tyrconnel's  return  led 
to  his  recall  from  a  position  at  once  irksome  and  humili- 
ating. Had  he  been  King  James's  legitimate  son,  the 
House  of  Stuart  would  probably  have  found  in  him  a 
restorer.  He  inherited  the  Churchill  genius  from  his 
mother,  Arabella,  who  was  King  James's  mistress  when 
that  monarch  was  Duke  of  York.  She  was  not  handsome 
of  feature,  but  her  figure  was  perfect,  and  the  deposed 
king,  to  judge  by  his  selections,  must  have  had  a  penchant 
for  plain  women.  O'Callaghan,  in  his  "History  of  the 

310  The  People's  History  of  Ireland 

Irish  Brigades,"  says  of  the  Duke  of  Berwick:  "He  was 
one  of  those  commanders  of  whom  it  is  the  highest  eulo- 
gium  to  say  that  to  such,  in  periods  of  adversity,  it  is 
safest  to  intrust  the  defence  of  a  state.  Of  the  great 
military  leaders  of  whose  parentage  England  can  boast, 
he  may  be  ranked  with  his  uncle,  Marlborough,  among 
the  first.  But  to  his  uncle,  as  to  most  public  characters, 
he  was  very  superior  as  a  man  of  principle.  The  Regent 
Duke  of  Orleans,  whose  extensive  acquaintance  with  hu- 
man nature  attaches  a  suitable  value  to  his  opinion,  ob- 
served :  'If  there  ever  was  a  perfectly  honest  man  in  the 
world,  that  man  was  the  Marshal  Duke  of  Berwick.' ' 
We  have  also  the  testimony  of  his  French  and  other  con- 
temporaries that  he  was  a  man  of  majestic  appearance — 
much  more  "royal"  in  that  respect  than  any  other  scion  of 
his  race. 

BOOK    V 



General  St.  Ruth  Arrives  at  Limerick  to  Command  the  Irish  Army 

—His   Marvelous  Activity— Brave  and  Able,  but  Vain 

and  Obstinate 

HP  HE  garrison  of  Limerick  was  beginning  to  despair 
•I  of  any  farther  succor  from  France,  and  murmurs 
against  the  viceroy  became  loud  and  deep,  when  runners 
arrived  from  the  southwestern  coast,  announcing  that  a 
French  fleet  had  been  sighted  off  the  Kerry  coast,  and 
that  it  was,  probably,  steering  for  the  estuary  of  the 
Shannon.  This  was  in  the  first  week  of  May,  and,  on 
the  8th  of  that  month,  the  French  men-of-war  cast  anchor 
in  the  harbor  of  Limerick.  On  board  was  Lieutenant- 
General  St.  Ruth,  with  Major-General  D'Usson,  Major- 
General  De  Tesse,  and  other  officers.  He  brought  with 
him,  in  the  ships,  provisions,  a  supply  of  indifferent  cloth- 
ing, and  a  quantity  of  ammunition,  but  no  reinforce- 
ments of  any  kind.  The  general,  however,  had  a  large 
personal  staff  and  a  retinue  of  servants  and  orderlies. 
He  was  received,  on  landing,  by  Tyrconnel,  Sarsfield, 
Sheldon,  and  other  army  leaders.  He  and  his  officers 
attended  pontifical  High  Mass  at  St.  Mary's  Cathedral, 
where  Te  Deum  was  chanted.  Macaulay,  a  somewhat 
imaginative  authority,  informs  us  that  St.  Ruth  was 
disappointed,  if  not  disgusted,  by  the  conditions  then 
existing  in  Limerick.  He  had  been  accustomed  to  com- 
mand troops  perfectly  uniformed  and  equipped.  The 
Irish  army  was  poorly  dressed  and  indifferently  armed. 


314  The  People's  History  of  Ireland 

He  had  seen  the  splendid  legions  of  Mountcashel  in 
Savoy,  dressed  scrupulously  and  bearing  the  best  arms 
of  that  day,  and  he  was  quite  unprepared  to  behold  the 
undeniable  poverty  of  the  brave  defenders  of  Athlone 
and  Limerick.  But  he  was  a  practical  soldier,  and  at 
once  set  about  what  an  American  general  would  call 
"licking  his  army  into  shape."  Dissatisfied  with  the  cav- 
alry mounts,  he  resorted  to  a  ruse  to  supply  the  de- 
ficiency. The  "gentry"  of  the  surrounding -districts  were 
summoned  to  King's  Island  to  deliberate  on  the  question 
of  national  defence.  They  came  in  large  numbers — 
every  man,  as  was  the  custom  of  the  times,  mounted  on 
a  strong  and  spirited  horse.  When  all  had  assembled, 
St.  Ruth,  through  an  interpreter,  addressed  them  in  spir- 
ited words.  One  of  the  chief  needs  of  the  hour  was 
cavalry  horses.  The  gentlemen  were  invited  to  dismount 
and  turn  over  their  horses  to  the  public  service.  This 
most  of  them  did  cheerfully,  while  others  were  chagrined. 
However,  St.  Ruth  gained  his  point,  and  the  Irish  troop- 
ers were  as  well  mounted  as  any  in  the  world. 

The  new  French  general,  although  much  given  to 
pleasure,  was  a  man  of  extraordinary  energy.  He  gave 
balls  to  honor  the  country  gentlemen  and  their  families, 
and  the  French  uniform  became  very  familiar  in  all  the 
aristocratic  Catholic  circles  of  Munster  and  Connaught. 
St.  Ruth  participated  in  the  dancing  and  feasting,  but 
was  always  "up  betimes,"  and  away  on  horseback,  at- 
tended by  his  staff  and  interpreters,  to  inspect  the  posts 
held  by  the  Irish  along  the  Shannon  and  Suck.  It  was 
during  one  of  those  rides,  tradition  says,  he  noticed  the 
hill  of  Kilcommodan,  rising  above  the  little  hamlet  of 
Aughrim,  near  Ballinasloe,  and,  casting  a  glance  at  the 

The  People's  History  of  Ireland  315 

position,  exclaimed  to  his  officers,  in  French,  "That  is 
the  choicest  battleground  in  all  Europe !"  We  shall  hear 
more  about  Aughrim,  and  what  there  befell  Monsieur 
St.  Ruth  and  the  Irish  army. 

That  brave  army,  at  Limerick,  Athlone,  and  Galway, 
was  put  through  a  course  of  drilling,  such  as  it  had  never 
received  before,  under  the  orders  of  the  ardent  and  in- 
defatigable Frenchman.  He  repressed  disorder  with  an 
iron  hand,  and  made  such  examples,  under  martial  law, 
as  seemed  necessary.  It  is  said  he  was  severe  to  his 
officers  and  contemptuous  to  the  rank  and  file  of  his 
army,  but  these  assertions  come  mainly  from  Chaplain 
Story  and  chroniclers  of  his  class.  The  haughty  Irish 
aristocrats  would  have  run  St.  Ruth  through  the  body 
with  their  swords  if  he  had  dared  to  be  insulting  toward 
them.  He  was  necessarily  strict,  no  doubt,  and  this 
strictness  bore  glorious  fruit  when  the  reorganized  army 
again  took  the  field.  One  of  the  chief  embarrassments 
of  the  time  was  lack  of  money.  Lauzun,  while  in  Ire- 
land, had  played  into  the  hands  of  the  English  by  crying 
down  King  James  "brass  money,"  as  it  was  called,  issued 
on  the  national  security.  The  poor  devoted  Irish  sol- 
diers took  it  readily  enough,  but  the  trading  and  com- 
mercial classes,  always  sensitive  and  conservative  where 
their  interests  are  affected,  were  slow  to  take  the  tokens 
in  exchange  for  their  goods.  King  Louis  had  promised 
a  large  supply  of  "good  money,"  but,  somehow,  it  was 
not  forthcoming,  except  in  small  parcels,  which  did  little 
good.  We  may  be  sure,  however,  that  St.  Ruth,  accus- 
tomed to  Continental  forced  loans,  did  not  stand  on 
ceremony,  and,  under  his  vigorous  regime,  the  Irish  army 
was  better  armed,  better  fed,  and  better  clad  than  it  had 

316  The  People's  History  of  Ireland 

been  since  the  outbreak  of  the  war.  Old  Tyrconnel  ruled 
Ireland  nominally.  The  real  ruler,  after  he  had,  by  re- 
peated representations  and  solicitations,  obtained  unre- 
stricted military  command,  was  St.  Ruth  himself.  Un- 
happily for  Ireland,  he  slighted  Tyrconnel,  who  was  a 
very  proud  man,  and  did  not  get  along  smoothly  with 
Sarsfield.  whose  sage  advice,  had  he  taken  it,  would  have 
saved  him  from  a  fatal  disaster. 

Baron  De  Ginkel,  commander-in-chief  for  William, 
marched  with  an  army  computed  at  19,000  men  from  Dub- 
lin to  open  the  campaign  against  the  Irish  on  the  line  of 
the  Shannon,  on  May  30,  1691.  On  June  7,  he  reached  the 
fort  of  Ballymore,  held  by  a  small  Irish  force  under  Lieu- 
tenant-Colonel Ulick  Burke,  and  summoned  it  to  surren- 
der. Burke  answered  defiantly,  and  Ginkel  immediately 
opened  upon  his  works.  A  detached  post,  held  by  a  ser- 
geant and  a  few  men,  was  defended  desperately  and  caused 
the  Williamites  serious  loss.  It  was  finally  captured,  and 
De  Ginkel,  with  inexcusable  cruelty,  hanged  the  brave 
sergeant,  for  doing  his  duty,  as  O'Callaghan  says,  on  the 
shallow  pretext  that  he  had  defended  an  untenable  posi- 
tion. Colonel  Burke,  nothing  daunted,  continued  his 
defence  of  Ballymore,  although  Ginkel  threatened  him 
with  the  unfortunate  sergeant's  fate.  The  fire  of  eighteen 
well-served  pieces  of  heavy  artillery  speedily  reduced  the 
fort  to  a  ruin.  The  Irish  engineer  officer,  Lieutenant- 
Colonel  Burton,  was  killed,  and  many  men  had  also  fallen. 
Burke  hung  out  a  flag  of  truce  and  demanded  the  honors 
of  war  if  he  were  to  surrender  the  place.  Ginkel  refused 
and  called  for  immediate  submission.  The  utmost  time 
he  would  grant  was  two  hours,  and  he  agreed  to  allow 
the  women  and  children  to  depart  within  that  period. 

The  People's  History  of  Ireland  317 

Once  he  proceeded  to  storm  the  position,  he  said,  the  gar- 
rison need  expect  no  quarter.  Colonel  Burke  declined  to 
be  intimidated  and  the  work  of  destruction  began  anew 
— the  women  and  children  still  remaining  in  the  be- 
leaguered fort.  The  latter  was  situated  near  the  town  of 
the  same  name,  in  the  County  Westmeath,  on  a  peninsula 
which  jutted  into  a  small  loch,  or  lake,  and  was  too  far 
from  support  to  make  a  successful  defence.  It  stood 
about  midway  between  Mullingar  and  Athlone  on  the  road 
from  Dublin.  Finally,  Ginkel  managed  to  assail  it  on  the 
water  front,  breaches  were  made,  and  further  resistance 
was  useless.  Therefore,  Governor  Burke  finally  sur- 
rendered. He  and  his  command  were  made  prisoners  of 
war,  and,  in  the  sinister  words  of  Story,  the  four  hun- 
dred women  and  children,  destitute  of  food,  shelter,  and 
protection,  were  "set  at  liberty."  What  subsequently  be- 
came of  them  is  not  stated.  Colonel  Burke  was  ex- 
changed and  fell  in  battle,  at  Aughrim,  soon  afterward. 
Seven  days  were  occupied  by  De  Ginkel  in  again  putting 
Ballymore  into  a  state  of  defence.  He  then  resumed  his 
march  on  Athlone,  and,  on  June  18,  was  joined  at  Bally- 
burn  Pass  by  the  Duke  of  Wurtemburg  and  Count  Nas- 
sau, at  the  head  of  7,000  foreign  mercenaries,  and  these, 
according  to  O'Callaghan,  the  most  painstaking  of  his- 
torical statisticians,  brought  his  force  up  to  "between 
26,000  and  27,000  men  of  all  arms." 

318  The  People's  History  of  Ireland 


De  Ginkel   Besieges  Athlone — Memorable  Resistance  of  the   Irish 

Garrison — The  Battle  at  the  Bridge — St.  Ruth's  Fatuous 

Obstinacy — Town  Taken  by  Surprise 

ST.  RUTH  had  been  advised  by  the  Irish  officers  of 
his  staff  not  to  attempt  the  defence  of  the  "English- 
town"  of  Athlone,  on  the  Leinster  bank  of  the  Shannon; 
but,  rather,  to  confine  himself  to  the  defence  of  the  Con- 
naught  side,  as  Governor  Grace  had  done  so  successfully 
in  the  preceding  year.  He  paid  no  attention  to  their 
counsel,  considering,  after  reflection,  that  the  Williamite 
army  should  be  met  and  beaten  back  from  the  English- 
town,  and  believing  that  the  bridge,  which,  in  the  event 
of  abandonment,  must  be  destroyed,  might  prove  useful 
in  future  military  operations.  Accordingly,  Colonel 
John  Fitzgerald  was  appointed  governor  of  this  portion 
of  Athlone,  and,  with  a  very  insufficient  force,  prepared 
to  do  his  duty.  Ginkel,  his  well-fed  ranks,  according 
to  Macaulay,  "one  blaze  of  scarlet,"  and  provided  with 
the  finest  artillery  train  ever  seen  in  Ireland,  appeared 
before  Athlone  on  the  morning  of  June  I9th.  His  ad- 
vance was  most  gallantly  disputed  and  retarded  by  a  de- 
tachment of  Irish  grenadiers,  selected  by  Governor  Fitz- 
gerald, for  that  important  duty.  He  took  command  of 
them  in  person,  and  they  fought  so  bravely  and  obsti- 
nately, that  the  enemy  were  delayed  in  their  progress  for 
several  hours,  so  that  the  Irish  garrison  was  well  pre- 
pared to  receive  them,  when  they  finally  appeared  within 
gunshot  of  the  walls.  The  attack  on  Englishtown  began 
immediately,  Ginkel  planting  such  of  his  cannon  as  had 

The  People's  History  of  Ireland  319 

already  come  up  with  great  judgment;  and  Fitzgerald 
replied  to  his  fire  with  the  few  and  inefficient  pieces  he 
possessed.  But  his  Irish  soldiers  performed  prodigies  of 
heroism.  Their  deeds  of  unsurpassed  valor  are  thus 
summed  up  by  Mr.  O'Callaghan  in  an  epitaph  which  he 
suggested,  in  his  "Green  Book,"  should  be  engraved  on  a 
memorial  stone  in  the  locality  of  the  action  to  be  revered 
by  the  Irish  people  of  all  creeds  and  parties : 

"Be  it  remembered  that,  on  the  iQth  and  2Oth  of  June, 
1691,  a  little  band,  of  between  three  hundred  and  four 
hundred  Irishmen,  under  Colonel  Fitzgerald,  contested 
against  an  English  army  of  about  26,000  men,  under 
Lieutenant-General  Ginkel,  the  passes  leading  to,  and  the 
English  town  of,  Athlone.  And  though  the  place  had 
but  a  slender  wall,  in  which  the  enemy's  well-appointed 
and  superior  artillery  soon  made  a  large  breach,  and 
though  its  few  defenders  were  worn  down  by  forty-eight 
hours'  continual  exertion,  they  held  out  till  the  evening 
of  the  second  day,  when,  the  breach  being  assaulted  by  a 
fresh  body  of  4,000  Dutch,  Danish,  and  English  troops, 
selected  from  above  26,000  men,  who  fought  in  succes- 
sive detachments,  against  but  three  hundred  or  four  hun- 
dred, with  no  fresh  troops  to  relieve  them,  these  gallant 
few  did  not  abandon  the  breach  before  above  two  hun- 
dred of  their  number  were  killed  or  disabled.  Then,  in 
spite  of  the  enemy,  the  brave  survivors  made  their  way 
to  the  bridge  over  the  Shannon,  maintained  themselves 
in  front  of.  it  till  they  demolished  two  arches  behind  them, 
and  finally  retired  across  the  river  by  a  drawbridge  into 
the  Irish  town,  which  was  preserved  by  their  heroism  till 
the  coming  up,  soon  after,  of  the  Irish  main  army  under 
Lieutenant-General  St.  Ruth." 

The  People's  History  of  Ireland 

Having  at  last  attained  possession  of  Englishtown, 
Baron  De  Ginkel  proceeded  without  delay  to  bombard 
the  Connaught,  and  stronger,  section  of  Athlone.  His 
cannonade  knocked  a  portion  of  the  grim  old  castle  to 
pieces,  and  did  considerable  other  damage,  but  produced 
no  depressing  effect  on  the  resolute  Irish  garrison,  com- 
manded by  two  such  heroes  as  Colonel  John  Fitzgerald 
and  the  veteran  Colonel  Grace,  who  acted  as  a  volunteer. 
The  experienced  Dutch  general,  fearing  the  appearance 
on  the  scene  of  St.  Ruth,  with  a  relieving  army,  became 
a  prey  to  anxiety.  Impressed  by  the  spirit  displayed  by 
the  Irish  troops,  he  knew  there  was  little  chance  of  forc- 
ing the  mutilated  bridge  by  a  direct  assault,  and  he  looked 
for  some  means  of  flanking  the  place,  either  by  a  ford  or 
a  bridge  of  boats.  He  did  not  have,  at  first,  sufficient 
material  for  the  latter,  so  he  "demonstrated"  with  detach- 
ments of  horse,  toward  Lanesborough,  east  of  Athlone, 
and  Banagher  west  of  it.  The  vigilance  of  the  Irish 
patrols  at  both  points  baffled  his  design. 

Meanwhile,  St.  Ruth,  who  had  been  on  the  march  from 
Limerick  for  some  days,  at  the  head  of  15,000  men,  if  we 
are  to  believe  King  James's  Memoirs,  appeared  beyond 
the  Shannon  and  went  into  camp  on  a  rising  ground  about 
a  mile  and  a  half  from  the  town.  He  was  soon  made 
aware  of  the  condition  of  affairs,  and  strengthened  the 
castle  garrison.  He  also  had  an  earthen  rampart  con- 
structed to  protect  the  bridge  and  ford.  The  latter  was 
practicable  at  low  water  only,  and  the  summer  of  1691 
was  exceptionally  dry.  The  river  had  never  been  known 
to  be  so  shallow  within  the  memory  of  living  man.  This 
fact  alone  should  have  warned  the  French  general  to  be 
exceptionally  vigilant.  He  retired  the  brave  Fitzgerald 

The  People's  History  of  Ireland  321 

from  the  governorship,  to  which  he  appointed  General 
Wauchop — a  good  soldier,  but  not  an  Irishman — and  the 
French  officers,  Generals  D'Usson  and  De  Tesse,  were 
made  joint  commandants  in  the  town.  The  apologists 
for  St.  Ruth's  mistakes  in  front  of  Athlone  claim  that  the 
ill-fated  chief  gave  orders  to  the  French  commandants  to 
level  all  the  useless  old  walls  near  the  bridge,  but  that 
his  orders  were  neglected.  As  is  usual  in  such  cases,  dis- 
obedience led  to  tragical  results.  Foiled  in  his  attempt 
at  flank  operations,  Ginkel  determined  to  assault  the  par- 
tially destroyed  bridge  across  the  Shannon,  which,  under 
cover  of  a  tremendous  cannon  fire,  he  did.  But  it  was 
defended  with  Spartan  tenacity.  Attack  after  attack 
failed.  Movable  covered  galleries  were  tried,  and  these 
contained  planks  wherewith  to  restore  the  broken  arches. 
Not  less  than  nine  English  batteries,  armed  with  heavy 
guns,  rained  death  on  the  Irish  army,  but  still  it  stood 
unmoved,  although  losing  heavily.  Under  cover  of  the 
fire  of  nearly  fifty  great  guns,  the  English  pontoniers, 
protected  also  by  their  galleries,  succeeded  in  laying  planks 
across  the  broken  arches.  They  accounted  their  work 
done,  when  suddenly  out  of  the  Irish  trenches  leaped 
eleven  men  clad  in  armor,  led  by  Sergeant  Custume,  or 
Costy,  who,  according  to  Sullivan,  called  on  them  "to  die 
with  him  for  Ireland."  They  rushed  upon  the  bridge  and 
proceeded  to  tear  away  the  planks.  Instantly,  all  the  En- 
glish cannon  and  muskets  sent  balls  and  bullets  crashing 
upon  them.  The  whole  eleven  fell  dead — shattered  by 
that  dreadful  fire.  Some  planks  still  remained  upon  the 
arches.  Eleven  more  Irish  soldiers  leaped  from  their 
works,  and,  following  the  example  of  their  fallen  com- 
rades, gained  the  bridge  and  sought  to  throw  the  planks 

322  The  People's  History  of  Ireland 

into  the  river.  Nine  of  these  heroes  were  killed  before 
their  work  was  accomplished.  But  the  planks  were  float- 
ing down  the  Shannon,  and  two  heroic  survivors  of 
twenty-two  Homeric  heroes  regained  the  Irish  lines! 
Pity  it  is  that  their  names  have  not  come  down  to  us. 
Aubrey  de  Vere,  in  his  fine  poem,  commemorating  the  ex- 
ploit, tells  us  that  St.  Ruth,  who,  with  Sarsfield,  witnessed 
the  glorious  deed,  rose  in  his  stirrups  and  swore  he  had 
never  seen  such  valor  displayed  in  the  Continental  wars. 
Chaplain  Story,  with  incredible  meanness,  tries  to  steal 
the  glory  of  this  deed  from  the  Irish  army  by  saying  that 
the  heroes  were  "bold  Scots  of  Maxwell's  regiment." 
The  slander  has  been  sufficiently  refuted  by  O'Callaghan, 
Boyle,  and  other  writers.  Maxwell  was  a  Scotchman,  but 
he  commanded  Irish  troops  exclusively,  and  there  was  not 
a  single  Scotch  battalion  in  the  service  of  King  James  in 
Ireland  from  first  to  last.  For  further  information  on 
this  point,  the  reader  can  consult  O'Callaghan's  "Green 
Book"  and  "History  of  the  Irish  Brigades/'  and  also  Dai- 
ton's  "King  James's  Irish  Army  List,"  which  gives  the 
roster  of  the  field,  line,  and  staff  officers  of  each  Irish  regi- 
ment, including  Maxwell's.  The  defence  of  the  bridge 
occurred  on  the  evening  of  June  28.  On  the  morning  of 
the  29th  another  attempt  was  to  have  been  made,  but, 
owing  to  some  miscalculation,  was  deferred  for  some 
hours.  St.  Ruth  was  ready  for  it  when  it  came,  and,  after 
another  murderous  struggle  at  the  bridge,  where  the  En- 
glish and  their  allies  were  led  by  the  Scottish  General 
Mackay,  the  assailants  were  again  beaten  off,  their  cov- 
ered gallery  destroyed,  and  their  bridge  of  boats,  which 
they  bravely  attempted  to  construct  in  face  of  the  Irish 
fire,  broken  up.  St.  Ruth  commanded  the  Irish  army  in 

The  People's   History  of  Ireland  323 

person  and  displayed  all  the  qualities  of  a  good  general. 
Success,  however,  would  seem  to  have  rendered  him  over- 
confident. The  conflict  over,  he  led  his  main  body  back 
to  camp,  and  is  said  to  have  given  a  ball  and  banquet  at 
his  quarters — a  country  house  now  in  a  neglected  con- 
dition and  popularly  known  as  "St.  Ruth's  Castle."  The 
Roscommon  peasants  still  speak  of  it  as  "the  owld  house 
in  which  the  French  general  danced  the  night  before  he 
lost  Athlone." 

By  some  unaccountable  fatality,  St.  Ruth,  instead  of 
leaving  some  veteran  troops  to  occupy  the  works  near 
the  bridge,  committed  them  to  new  and  untrained  regi- 
ments, which  were  placed  under  the  command  of  Acting 
Brigadier  Maxwell.  The  latter,  who  has  been — unjustly, 
perhaps — accused  of  treason  by  Irish  writers,  would  seem 
to  have  shared  the  fatal  over-confidence  of  St.  Ruth. 
Therefore,  no  extraordinary  precautions  were  adopted 
to  prevent  a  surprise — something  always  to  be  anticipated 
when  a  baffled  enemy  grows  desperate.  Colonel  Cormac 
O'Neill,  of  the  great  Ulster  family  of  that  ilk,  happened 
to  be  on  duty  at  the  defences  of  the  river  front  during 
the  night  and  morning  of  June  29-30,  and  noticed  sus- 
picious movements  among  the  English  troops  occupying 
the  other  side  of  the  Shannon.  Becoming  alarmed,  he 
immediately  communicated  his  suspicions  to  Maxwell, 
observing,  at  the  same  time,  that  he  would  like  a  supply 
of  ammunition  for  his  men.  Maxwell  sneered  and  asked, 
"Do  your  men  wish  to  shoot  lavrocks  (larks)  ?"  How- 
ever, O'Neill's  earnest  manner  impressed  him  somewhat, 
and,  in  the  gray  of  the  morning,  he  visited  the  outer 
lines,  and,  from  what  he  saw,  at  once  concluded  that 
De  Ginkel  had  some  serious  movement  in  contemplation. 

324  The  People's  History  of  Ireland 

He  sent  immediately  to  St.  Ruth  for  a  regiment  of  vet- 
eran infantry,  at  the  same  time  giving  his  reasons  for 
the  request.  St.  Ruth,  it  is  said,  sent  back  a  taunting 
reply,  which  reflected  on  Maxwell's  courage.  We  are 
told  that  Sarsfield  remonstrated  with  St.  Ruth,  who  de- 
clared he  did  not  believe  Ginkel  would  make  an  attempt 
to  surprise  the  town,  while  he  was  so  near  with  an  army 
to  relieve  it.  English  historians  say  that,  upon  this, 
Sarsfield  apostrophized  British  valor  and  remarked  that 
there  was  no  enterprise  too  perilous  for  it  to  attempt. 
The  discussion — if,  indeed,  it  ever  took  place — was  cut 
short  by  the  ringing  of  bells  and  firing  of  cannon  in 
the  town.  "Athlone  is  surprised  and  taken!"  Sarsfield  is 
credited  with  having  said,  as  he  observed  the  untrained 
fugitives  running  from  the  Irish  trenches.  "Impossible !" 
St.  Ruth  is  represented  to  have  replied,  "Ginkel's  master 
should  hang  him  if  he  attempts  the  capture  of  the  place, 
and  mine  should  hang  me  if  I  were  to  lose  it!"  But 
the  uproar  from  the  city  soon  showed  the  Frenchman 
that  something  terrible  had  occurred.  When  too  late,  he 
gave  orders  to  rectify  his  mistake.  The  English  were 
already  in  the  works  and  could  not  be  dislodged.  Max- 
well's men  had  fled  in  disorder,  most  of  them  being  sur- 
prised in  their  sleep,  and  the  general  and  some  of  his 
officers  became  prisoners  of  war.  It  was  the  most  com- 
plete and  successful  surprise  recorded  in  military  annals, 
except,  perhaps,  that  of  Mannheim  by  General,  after- 
ward Marshal,  Ney,  in  1799.  It  would  seem  that  Ginkel, 
by  the  advice  of  Mackay,  and  other  officers,  looked  for 
a  ford,  and  found  it  by  the  aid  of  three  Danish  soldiers 
who  were  under  sentence  of  death,  and  were  offered  their 
lives  if  they  succeeded.  They  found  the  ford,  and  the 

The  People's  History  of  Ireland  325 

Irish,  seeing  them  approach  the  bank  of  the  river  fear- 
lessly, concluded  they  were  deserters  and  refrained  from 
firing.  After  them  plunged  in  sixty  armored  English 
grenadiers,  led  by  Captain  Sandys,  a  noted  military  dare- 
devil, and  these  were  followed  by  the  main  body  under 
Mackay,  another  experienced  commander.  The  hour  was 
six  in  the  morning  of  June  30,  and,  after  one  of  the 
bravest  defences  of  which  we  have  record,  Athlone, 
through  the  infatuation  of  St.  Ruth,  was  in  English 
hands  before  noon  on  that  eventful  day.  And  so  it  came 
to  pass,  that  after  a  conflict  of  more  than  a  year,  the 
defensive  line  of  the  Shannon  was,  at  last,  broken.  It 
is  estimated  by  most  historians  that  Ginkel's  total  loss 
amounted  to  1,200  men  and  that  of  St.  Ruth  was  some- 
what greater,  owing  to  the  surprise.  Among  those  killed 
in  St.  Ruth's  army  were  two  colonels,  named  McGin- 
ness,  Colonel  MacMahon,  Colonel  O'Gara,  Colonel  Rich- 
ard Grace,  who  fell  in  defence  of  the  bridge  on  the  29th, 
and  the  French  adjutant-general.  Few  officers  of  note 
fell  on  the  English  side.  Ginkel,  during  the  siege,  "ex- 
pended 50  tons  of  gunpowder,  12,000  cannon  balls, 
600  bombshells,  and  innumerable  tons  of  stone,  hurled 
from  the  mortars,  when  the  shells  were  exhausted." 
After  the  capture,  the  English  found  only  a  mass  of 
ruins,  and  it  took  De  Ginkel  several  days  to  put  the 
place  in  some  kind  of  repair. 

326  The  People's  History  of  Ireland 


The  Irish  Army  Falls  Back  and  Takes  Post  at  Aughrim — Descrip- 
tion of  the  Field — Disposition  of  the  Irish  Forces — Baal 
Dearg  O'Donnell's  Apathy 

BOTH  history  and  tradition  affirm  that  St.  Ruth  and 
Sarsfield  almost  came  to  swords'  points  over  the 
loss  of  Athlone,  and  it  is  still  believed,  in  that  section 
of  Ireland,  that  the  Irish  general,  indignant  at  the  crim- 
inal blunder  that  had  been  committed  by  his  superior, 
took  all  of  his  cavalry  from  under  the  Frenchman's  com- 
mand and  marched  to  Limerick.  But  this  tradition  is 
more  than  doubtful.  It  is,  however,  certain  that  the  two 
leaders,  who  should  have  been  so  united  in  council,  had  a 
bitter  altercation  over  the  disaster,  and  were  hardly  on 
speaking  terms  during  the  few  momentous  days  they 
were  destined  to  serve  together.  St.  Ruth  was  filled  with 
rage  and  mortification.  He  felt  that  he  had  committed 
a  grievous  error,  and  dreaded  the  anger  of  King  Louis, 
who  was  a  severe  judge  of  those  who  served  him  ill. 
He  declared  his  determination  to  hazard  all  on  a  pitched 
battle.  Against  this  resolve,  Tyrconnel,  who  had  come 
to  the  camp  from  Limerick,  and  others,  protested,  but 
in  vain.  St.  Ruth  was  in  no  humor  to  be  balked.  Tyr- 
connel left  the  camp  in  dudgeon  and  retired  once  more 
to  Limerick,  which  he  was  destined  never  to  leave  again. 
Having  made  up  his  mind  to  fight,  St.  Ruth  at  once  broke 
camp  and  moved  by  Milton  Pass,  where  he  halted  for  a 
night,  toward  Ballinasloe,  which  stands  on  the  river  Suck 
and  in  the  county  of  Galway.  The  cavalry  covered  the 
retreat,  but  no  attempt  whatever  was  made  at  pursuit. 

The  People's  History  of  Ireland  327 

The  army  took  post  along  the  fords  of  the  Suck,  as  if 
it  intended  to  fight  in  front  of  Ballinasloe,  which  was  con- 
sidered quite  defensible,  but  St.  Ruth's  previous  knowl- 
edge of  the  country  would  appear  to  have  determined  him 
to  retire  about  three  and  a  half  miles  south  by  west  of 
his  first  position,  as  soon  as  reinforcements,  drawn  from 
the  abandoned,  or  reduced,  posts  along  the  Shannon,  had 
joined  him.  In  his  retreat  from  Athlone,  some  of  the 
Connaught  troops,  disgusted  by  the  loss  of  that  town  and 
doubtful  of  the  general's  motives,  deserted,  and  these 
had  to  be  replaced  by  the  soldiers  of  the  Irish  garrisons 
broken  up  or  depleted.  About  July  9,  old  style,  St. 
Ruth  decamped  from  Ballinasloe,  and  a  few  hours  after- 
ward his  devoted  army,  which,  according  to  our  best 
information,  consisted  of  about  15,000  foot  and  5,000 
horse  and  dragoons,  with  only  nine  field-pieces,  defiled 
by  the  causeways  of  Urachree  and  Aughrim  to  the  slopes 
of  Kilcommodan  Hill,  where  the  new  camp  was  estab- 
lished, on  the  eastern  side  of  the  eminence,  facing  toward 
Garbally  and  Ballinasloe.  Kilcommodan,  at  that  period, 
was  almost  surrounded  by  red  bog,  and,  on  the  front  by 
which  De  Ginkel  must  approach,  ran  a  small  stream,  with 
several  branches,  which  made  the  morass  impracticable 
for  horse  and  difficult  for  infantry.  In  our  day,  this 
morass  has  become  meadow-land,  but  it  is  about  the  only 
natural  feature  that  has  undergone  considerable  change 
since  the  period  of  the  battle.  From  north  to  south,  the 
hill  is  estimated  to  be  a  little  more  than  a  mile  in  length, 
and  its  mean  elevation  is  about  350  feet.  The  bog  lay 
closer  up  to  Aughrim,  where  stand  the  ruins  of  an  old 
castle  which  commanded  the  narrow  and  difficult  pass, 
than  to  Urachree,  where  there  is  another  pass  not  par- 

Ireland— 15  Vol.  I. 

328  The  People's  History  of  Ireland 

ticularly  formidable  to  a  determined  assailant.  The 
road  through  the  pass  of  Aughrim  ran  then,  and  still 
runs,  by  Kilconnell  Abbey  and  village — after  which  the 
French  have  named  the  battle — to  Athenry,  Loughrea, 
and  Galway.  The  road  through  the  pass  of  Urachree 
connects  Ballinasloe  with  Lawrencetown,  Eyrecourt,  and 
Banagher  Bridge,  and  also,  by  a  branch  route,  with  Por- 
tumna ;  and  these  were  the  natural  lines  of  retreat  for  the 
Irish  army  in  the  event  of  disaster.  Near  the  crest  of 
Kilcommodan  Hill  are  the  remains  of  two  so-called  Dan- 
ish raths,  circular  in  shape,  and  in  the  one  nearest  to 
Aughrim  Castle  St.  Ruth  is  said  to  have  pitched  his  tent. 
Most  of  the  elevation  was  then  a  wild  common,  but  at 
its  base,  on  the  Irish  front,  were  many  fields  under  tillage, 
and  these  small  inclosures  were  divided  from  each  other 
by  thick,  "quickset"  hedges,  or,  rather,  fences,  such  as 
are  still  common  in  Ireland — formidable  against  the  en- 
croachments of  cattle,  but  still  more  formidable  when 
applied  to  military  purposes.  The  French  general  had 
found  his  intrenchments  ready-made,  and  proceeded  to 
use  them  to  the  best  possible  advantage.  Weak  points 
in  them  were  strengthened,  and  passageways  connecting 
one  with  the  other,  from  front  to  rear  and  from  right  to 
left,  were  constructed.  The  design  was  to  enable  the 
formidable  Irish  cavalry  to  aid  the  infantry  when  a  crisis 
should  arrive.  In  the  direction  of  Urachree,  St.  Ruth 
caused  the  construction  of  regular  breastworks,  conceiv- 
ing that  his  point  of  danger  lay  to  the  right,  and  having, 
as  a  military  writer  has  well  observed,  "a  fatal  confi- 
dence in  the  strength  of  his  left  flank,"  resting  as  it  did 
on  an  old  castle  and  "a  narrow,  boggy  trench  through 
which  two  horsemen  could  hardly  ride  abreast."  All 

The  People's  History  of  Ireland  329 

his  arrangements  were  completed  by  the  loth  of  July, 
and,  according  to  Boyle,  the  author  of  "The  Battlefields 
of  Ireland,"  his  line  of  battle,  which  contemporaneous 
accounts  say  covered  a  front  of  about  two  miles,  had  its 
right  resting  on  Urachree  and  its  left  upon  Aughrim. 
The  London  "Gazette"  of  July,  1691,  says  that  this  wing 
of  the  Irish  army  "extended  toward  the  Abbey  of  Kil- 
connell,"  which  was  considerably  to  the  left  and  almost 
in  rear  of  Kilcommodan  Hill.  The  Irish  centre  rested 
on  the  mid  slope  of  the  elevation,  "between  its  camp  and 
the  hedgerows."  Each  division  consisted  of  two  front 
and  two  rear  lines ;  the  former  of  infantry  and  the  latter 
of  cavalry.  Of  St.  Ruth's  nine  brass  pieces,  two  were 
devoted  to  the  defence  of  Aughrim  Castle;  a  battery  of 
three  pieces  was  constructed  on  the  northeastern  slope  of 
Kilcommodan,  so  as  to  rake  the  castle  pass,  a  part  of  the 
morass,  and  the  firmer  ground  beyond  it,  and  thus  pre- 
vent any  hostile  troops  from  deploying  there  and  so 
threaten  his  left.  His  other  battery,  of  four  pieces,  was 
planted  on  his  right  and  swept  the  pass  leading  to  Ura- 
chree. It  is  said  that  a  strong  reserve  of  horse,  under 
Sarsfield,  was  posted  on  the  west  side  of  the  hill,  out 
of  view  of  the  approaching  enemy,  but  that  Sarsfield  had 
been  particularly  enjoined  by  St.  Ruth  to  make  no  move- 
ment whatever  without  a  direct  order  from  himself. 
Story,  who  ought  to  know,  says  that  Sarsfield  was  sec- 
ond in  command,  but  neither  to  him  nor  to  any  other 
of  his  subordinate  generals  did  St.  Ruth  communicate 
his  plan  of  battle,  so  that,  if  he  were  doomed  to  fall,  the 
conflict  could  still  be  waged  as  he  had  from  the  first  or- 
dained it.  This  was  St.  Ruth's  most  fatal  error,  as  it 
placed  the  fate  of  Ireland  on  the  life  or  death  of  a  single 

3JO  The  People's  History  of  Ireland 

man.  He  had  no  cannon  with  which  to  arm  a  battery  on 
his  centre,  nor  does  he  seem  to  have  wanted  any  for 
that  purpose — his  apparent  plan  being  to  let  the  English 
infantry  cross  at  that  point,  where  he  felt  confident  the 
Irish  foot  and  dragoons  would  soon  make  an  end  of 
them.  Although  King  James's  memoirs  aver  that  St. 
Ruth  had  "a  mean  [i.e.  poor]  opinion"  of  the  Irish  in- 
fantry, until  it  developed  its  prowess  in  the  battle,  his  dis- 
position of  this  arm  at  Aughrim  would  not  convey  that 
opinion  to  the  observing  mind.  Most  of  the  Irish  foot 
lacked  discipline,  in  the  strict  sense  of  the  term,  but  no 
general  who  had  seen  them  fight,  as  St.  Ruth  did,  at  the 
bridge  of  Athlone,  could  doubt  their  courage.  His  ex- 
pectation that  the  English  troops  sent  against  his  centre 
would  be  roughly  handled  was  not  doomed  to  disappoint- 

Owing  to  many  untoward  causes,  a  full  and  correct 
list  of  the  Irish  regiments  that  fought  at  Aughrim  is  not 
to  be  obtained,  but  Boyle  holds  that  Colonel  Walter 
Bourke  and  his.  brother,  Colonel  David  Bourke,  held  the 
position  in  and  around  the  castle  of  Aughrim ;  that  Lord 
Bophin,  Brigadier  Henry  Luttrell,  and  Colonels  Simon 
Luttrell  and  Ulick  Bourke  commanded  on  the  left;  that 
Major-General  Dorrington,  Major-General  H.  M.  J. 
O'Neill,  Brigadier  Gordon  O'Neill,  Colonel  Felix  O'Neill, 
and  Colonel  Anthony  Hamilton  held  the  centre;  and  that 
Lords  Kilmallock,  Galmoy,  Galway,  Clare,  and  Colonel 
James  Talbot  commanded  on  the  right,  toward  Urachree. 
Thus  it  may  be  inferred,  says  the  historian,  that  the  Mun- 
ster  troops  were  on  the  right,  the  Leinster  and  Ulster  con- 
tingents in  the  centre,  and  the  soldiers  of  Connaught  were 
posted  on  the  left.  The  general  in  command  of  the  entire 

The  People's  History  of  Ireland  331 

infantry  was  William  Mansfield  Barker,  and  Major-Gen- 
eral John  Hamilton  was  in  chief  command  of  the  horse. 
The  discord  among  the  chief  officers  in  the  Irish  camp 
must  have  been  something  unusual,  when  to  none  of  the 
distinguished  commanders  enumerated  did  the  French 
commander-in-chief  reveal  his  order  of  battle.  But  the 
historian  recently  quoted  says,  in  reviewing  the  character 
of  the  unfortunate  Frenchman :  "Whatever  were  the  foi- 
bles of  St.  Ruth,  from  his  advent  in  the  country  to  his 
retreat  from  Athlone,  we  have  now  to  look  on  an  entirely 
different  character.  He  had  learned,  though  at  a  fearful 
cost,  that  his  name  had  no  fears  for  his  potent  adver- 
sary ;  that  deeds  alone  were  to  be  the  test  of  high  emprise, 
and  that  his  folly  had  narrowed  down  the  campaign,  and 
in  fact  the  whole  war,  to  the  last  resource  of  fallen 
heroes — death  or  victory.  With  this  feeling,  all  that  was 
vainglorious  in  his  character  at  once  disappeared ;  the  mist 
was  removed  from  his  mind,  and  it  shone  out  to  the  end 
of  his  short  career  as  that  of  a  true  hero  in  adversity. 
Unlike  his  French  predecessors,  he  scorned  to  hide  his 
faults  behind  the  shield  of  calumny ;  he  candidly  acknowl- 
edged his  error  and  bitterly  lamented  it.  He  became 
courteous  to  his  officers,  affable  to  his  soldiers,  changed 
at  once  from  the  despot  to  the  patriarch,  and,  touched  by 
his  sorrows,  as  much  as  by  their  own  calamity,  they  again 
rallied  round  him  and  determined  on  a  final  throw  for  re- 
ligion and  liberty." 

A  proclamation  issued  by  the  English  Lords  Justices,  in 
the  name  of  William  and  Mary,  immediately  after  the  fall 
of  Athlone,  offered  inducements,  in  the  shape  of  promo- 
tion and  money,  to  such  officers  and  soldiers  of  the  Irish 
army  as  would  desert  their  colors  and  accept  service  with 

33  a  The  People's  History  of  Ireland 

De  Ginkel.  Very  few  traitors  availed  themselves  of  the 
offer,  but  many  of  those  who  were  indignant  with  St. 
Ruth  abandoned  the  camp  and  joined  the  irregular  forces 
of  the  military  Hiberno-Spanish  adventurer,  Baal  Dearg 
O'Donnell,  who  claimed  to  be  of  the  noble  House  of  Tyr- 
connel,  and  had  lately  come  from  Spain,  apparently  with- 
out a  settled  purpose  or  principle.  Instead  of  uniting  his 
7,000  irregulars  with  the  regular  Irish  army  under  St. 
Ruth,  who  had  no  French  troops  whatever  with  him, 
O'Donnell  assumed  the  airs  of  a  hereditary  Irish  prince, 
affected  to  despise  James  as  well  as  William,  and  estab- 
lished his  camp  and  court  in  the  country  between  Tuam 
and  Athenry,  within  two  short  marches,  if  made  even  in 
ordinary  time,  of  the  Irish  encampment  on  Kilcommodan 
Hill.  St.  Ruth  summoned  him  to  his  aid,  but  the  adven- 
turer, whose  selfish  conduct  some  Irish  writers,  notably 
Mr.  Haverty,  have  sought  to  explain  and  excuse,  made 
no  reply,  and,  to  this  day,  he  is  remembered  in  Ireland 
with  detestation  not  unmingled  with  contempt.  His 
duty,  when  within  sound  of  the  cannon  of  Aughrim,  was 
to  hasten  to  the  field  and  spare  the  fate  of  his  gallant 


De  Ginkel  Marches  After  St.  Ruth  —  The  Latter  Prepares  to  "Con- 
quer or  Die"  —  His  Speech  to  the  Irish  Army  on  the  Eve  of 

EINFORCEMENTS  continued  to  reach  De  Gin- 
1  \  kel's  camp  near  Athlone,  where  he  lingered  much 
longer  than  he  originally  intended,  owing  to  the  utter 
ruin  which  the  bombardment  had  wrought.  Another 
cause  of  his  delay  was  his  anxiety  to  obtain  fresh  sup- 

The  People's  History  of  Ireland  333 

plies  of  ammunition,  and  he  judged  correctly  that  St. 
Ruth,  rendered  desperate  by  his  late  misfortune,  would 
give  him  decisive  battle  at  the  very  first  opportunity. 
But,  about  July  10,  all  was  in  readiness,  and  leaving  in 
Athlone  a  powerful  garrison,  the  Dutch  general  and  his 
fine  army  set  out  in  pursuit  of  St.  Ruth,  who  had  now 
so  many  days  "the  start"  of  his  enemy.  The  English 
halted  that  night  at  Kilcashel,  on  the  road  to  Ballinasloe. 
On  the  nth  they  reached  the  fords  of  the  Suck,  and  the 
scouts  reported  the  Irish  pickets  in  full  view  on  the 
heights  of  Garbally — now  the  domain  of  the  Earl  of 
Clancarty,  whose  ancestor  distinguished  himself  as  an 
artillerist  on  the  English  side  at  Aughrim.  De  Ginkel, 
taking  with  him  a  formidable  force  of  cavalry,  crossed 
the  river  by  the  ford  and  rode  forward  to  reconnoitre 
St.  Ruth's  position.  The  Irish  pickets  fell  back  as  he 
advanced,  and,  reaching  the  crest  of  the  heights,  he  be- 
held, through  his  field-glass,  on  an  opposite  elevation, 
about  a  mile  and  a  half  distant,  the  Irish  army  drawn 
up  in  "battle's  magnificently  stern  array,"  matches  lighted 
at  the  batteries,  and  their  colors  advanced,  challenging 
to  combat.  He  rode  forward  farther  still,  to  get  a  closer 
view,  and  St.  Ruth  allowed  him  to  gratify  his  curiosity 
unmolested,  although  he  came  within  less  than  half  a 
mile  of  the  Irish  lines.  What  he  saw  made  De  Ginkel 
thoughtful.  His  military  glance  showed  him  the  strength 
of  the  Irish  position,  and  St.  Ruth's  reputation  as  a  com- 
petent general  stood  high  in  all  the  camps  of  Europe. 
He  rode  back  to  his  camp  and  called  a  council  of  his 
officers,  Mackay,  Ruvigny,  Talmash,  and  the  rest.  Hav- 
ing explained  the  situation,  he  asked  for  their  opinion. 
Some  were  for  trying  a  flank  movement,  which  would 

334  Tht  People's  History  of  Ireland 

draw  St.  Ruth  from  his  chosen  ground,  but  the  bolder 
spirits  said  they  had  gone  too  far  to  turn  aside  without 
loss  of  honor,  and  a  forward  movement  was  decided  on. 
The  camp,  guarded  by  two  regiments,  was  left  un- 
disturbed. All  superfluous  clothing  was  laid  aside,  and, 
in  light  marching  order,  De  Ginkel's  army  crossed  the 
Suck,  the  movement  being  visible  to  St.  Ruth  from  Kil- 
commodan  Hill,  "the  foot,"  as  Story  has  it,  "over  the 
bridge;  the  English  and  French  [Huguenot]  horse  over 
the  ford  above,  and  the  Dutch  and  Danes  over  two  fords 
below."  It  was  six  o'clock  in  the  morning  of  Sunday, 
July  12,  1691  (July  23,  new  style),  while  the  early 
church  bells  were  ringing  in  Ballinasloe,  when  they  pre- 
pared to  march  on  Aughrim.  English  annalists,  intend- 
ing, perhaps,  to  minimize  the  prowess  of  the  Irish  army, 
place  De  Ginkel's  strength  at  18,000  men  of  all  arms, 
but  the  roster  of  his  regiments,  as  given  by  Story  and 
other  contemporaneous  writers,  shows  conclusively  that 
his  force 'could  not  havd'been  less  than  from  25,000  to 
30,000  men,  nearly  all  seasoned  veterans.  The  William- 
ite  chaplain's  map  of  Ginkel's  order  of  battle  shows  over 
seventy  (70)  regimental  organizations,  not  including 
Lord  Portland's  horse,  which  joined  after  the  line  was 
formed.  Some  of  the  bodies  shown  as  regiments  may 
have  been  battalions  or  squadrons,  but,  making  due  al- 
lowance for  these,  and  counting  400  men  as  the  average  of 
seventy  distinct  formations,  which  is  an  almost  absurdly 
low  estimate,  the  Williamite  army  could  not,  possibly,  have 
been  less  than  28,000  men.  Its  artillery  was  formidable, 
and  the  cavalry — British,  Dutch,  Danish,  German,  and 
Huguenot — was  accounted  the  best  in  Europe.  As  this 
fine  force  advanced  toward  its  objective,  the  scared  rural 

The  People's   History  of  Ireland  335 

folk  fled  before  it,  remembering,  no  doubt,  the  excesses 
committed  by  the  armies,  of  William  and  Douglas  in 
Leinster  and  Munster  during  the  preceding  year.  The 
writer  lived  for  some  years  almost  within  sight  of  Kil- 
commodan  Hill,  and  heard  from  the  simple,  but  intelli- 
gent, peasantry,  whose  great-grandfathers  had  spoken 
with  soldiers  of  King  James's  army,  how  De  Ginkel's 
troops  defiled  in  four  great,  glittering  columns  of  scarlet 
and  blue  and  steel,  horse,  foot,  and  cannoneers,  over  the 
Suck  and  took  up  .their  positions  on  the  Galway  side  of 
the  rive^.  Their  brass  field-pieces  shone  like  burnished 
gold  in  the  morning  sun.  They  halted  where  the  road 
from  Ballinasloe,  running  west  by  south,  branches  around 
the  north  side  of  Kilcommodan,  toward  Kilconnell,  Athen- 
ry,  and  Galway,  and  around  the  south  end  of  that  eleva- 
tion toward  Kiltormer,  Lawrencetown,  .and  Clonfert. 
The  Irish  pickets  fell  back  before  them,  firing  as  they 
retired,  from  the  heights  of  Knockdunloe,  Garbally,  and 
Liscappel.  De  Ginkel  marshaled  his  army  into  two  lines 
of  battle,  corresponding  almost  exactly  to  the  Irish 
formation,  the  infantry  in  the  front  line,  and  strongest, 
finally,  toward  the  centre,  and  the  cavalry  on  the  flanks, 
supported  by  the  cannon. 

Up  to  about  7.30  o'clock,  tradition  says,  the  morning 
remained  beautifully  clear,  and  the  Irish  camp,  on  the 
rising  ground,  was  plainly  visible  to  the  enemy.  St. 
Ruth's  army,  except  the  officers  and  men  on  duty  and 
the  few  non-Catholic  Jacobites  who  followed  its  fortunes, 
was  observed  to  be  assisting  at  mass — altars  having  been 
erected  by  the  chaplains  at  the  head  of  every  regiment. 
It  was,  according  to  the  imposing  French  custom,  which 
St.  Ruth  closely  followed,  military  High  Mass,  during 

336  The  People's  History  of  Ireland 

which,  at  the  elevation  of  the  Host,  there  was  rolling  of 
the  drums  and  blare  of  trumpets,  instead  of  the  pealing 
of  cathedral  bells.  The  horses  of  the  Irish  cavalry  were 
"on  herd"  along  the  grassy  hillside,  under  guard;  but, 
when  the  English  advance  was  sighted,  the  bugles 
sounded  "To  Horse/'  and  there  was  "mounting  in  hot 
haste"  of  Sarsfield's  and  Galmoy's  and  Kilmallock's 
bronzed  and  bearded  troopers: — the  paladins  of  the 
Boyne  and  Ballyneety.  Divine  service  over,  the  Irish 
army  at  once  occupied  the  positions  assigned  to  the  sev- 
eral corps  by  their  general  on  the  preceding  day.  Story 
and  some  other  English  writers  claim  that,  on  that  day, 
also,  St.  Ruth  addressed  to  his  army  a  pompous,  vain- 
glorious, and  rather  insulting  speech,  which  he  caused  to 
be  translated  into  English  and  Irish,  by  his  interpreters, 
for  the  benefit  of  those  to  whom  it  was  directed.  But 
Irish  chroniclers  aver  that  he  spoke  to  the  troops  with 
paternal  consideration,  reminded  them  of  their  country's 
sufferings,  and  their  own  *duty,  and  called  upon  them, 
in  words  of  nervous  eloquence,  in  the  name  of  honor, 
religion,  and  liberty,  and  for  Ireland's  military  glory, 
to  conquer  or  die. 


Decisive  Battle  of  Aughrim — It  Opens  Favorably  for  the  Irish — Des- 
perate Fighting  in  the  Centre  and  at  Urachree — Fortune 
or  Treason  Favors  De  Ginkel 

BUT  the  fog,  "arising  from  the  moist  valley  of  the 
Suck,"  had,  meanwhile,  gathered  so  densely  that  the 
rival  armies,  for  a  time,  lost  sight  of  each  other,  and  De 
Ginkel's  forward  movement  was  suspended;  but  his  sol- 
diers rested  in  the  positions  previously  determined  on, 

The  People's  History  of  Ireland  337 

although  the  formation  had  to  be  somewhat  modified  later 
in  the  day.  It  was  about  noon  when  the  fog  finally  rolled 
away,  and  Ginkel's  line  of  battle  moved  slowly  onward, 
until,  at  last,  to  use  the  graphic  words  of  Lord  Macaulay, 
the  rival  armies  "confronted  each  other,  with  nothing  but 
the  bog  and  the  breastwork  between  them."  The  Irish 
historian,  John  Boyle,  states,  in  his  fine  account  of  the 
conflict  at  Aughrim,  that,  at  sight  of  the  Williamite  array, 
on  the  other  side  of  the  morass,  the  Irish  army  broke  into 
loud  shouts  of  defiance,  which  were  vigorously  responded 
to  by  their  foes.  There  was  a  mutual  mortal  hatred  ex- 
pressed in  those  cheers.  It  meant  "war  to  the  knife," 
and,  as  at  our  own  Buena  Vista, 

"Who  heard  the  thunder  of  the  fray 

Break  o'er  the  field  beneath, 
Well  knew  the  watchword  of  that  day 
Was  "Victory  or  death!'" 

Observing  the  strength  of  the  Irish  left  at  Aughrim 
Castle,  De  Ginkel  resolved  to  manoeuvre  toward  Urachree, 
where  his  horse  had  a  better  chance,  and,  about  one 
o'clock,  began  the  battle  with  a  cavalry  advance  in  the 
direction  of  the  latter  point.  The  first  charge  was  made 
by  a  Danish  troop  on  an  Irish  picket.  The  latter  met  the 
shock  so  fiercely  that  the  Danes,  although  superior  in 
numbers,  by  the  admission  of  Story,  fled  in  great  haste. 
Another  party  was  sent  forward,  and  still  another — the 
Irish  responding  with  fresh  bodies  of  their  own,  until,  at 
last,  Cunningham's  dragoons,  Eppinger's  cavalry,  and 
Lord  Portland's  horse — all  under  the  veteran  General 
Holztapfel — were  drawn  in  on  the  English  side.  They 
charged  furiously,  and,  for  a  moment,  the  Irish  cavalry 
gave  ground,  drawing  their  opponents  after  them.  The 

338  The  People's  History  of  Ireland 

English,  carried  away  by  apparent  success,  rode  at  a  gal- 
lop past  the  house  of  Urachree  and  were  immediately 
charged  in  flank  by  the  brave  Lord  Galmoy.  A  mur- 
derous conflict  followed,  but,  as  at  the  Boyne,  the  Irish 
horsemen  showed  their  superiority,  and  their  gallant  ene- 
mies were  forced  to  fall  back  in  terrible  disorder,  leaving 
hundreds  of  their  comrades  dead  or  dying  on  the  ensan- 
guined field.  Many  of  the  Irish  troopers  fell  also,  and, 
on  both  sides,  every  man  was  killed  or  wounded  by  the 
sabre.  The  English  left  their  heroic  commander,  General 
Holztapfel,  among  their  dead.  When  De  Ginkel  saw  his 
chosen  cavalry  repelled  with  slaughter  from  Urachree,  he 
became  profoundly  anxious.  There  had  been,  up  to  this 
time,  only  a  few  partial  demonstrations  by  the  Anglo- 
Dutch  infantry  which  had  produced  no  impression 
whatever  on  St.  Ruth's  sturdy  foot,  who  lay  quietly 
in  their  works,  waiting  for  their  foes  to  advance  to 
closer  quarters. 

De  Ginkel,  in  deep  distress  of  mind,  summoned  a  coun- 
cil of  war,  which  debated  whether  it  were  better  to  defer 
the  battle  until  next  day  or  renew  the  attack  immediately. 
At  one  time,  during  the  discussion,  it  was  determined 
upon  to  send  back  to  Ballinasloe  for  the  tents,  and  en- 
camp for  the  night  where  the  army  stood.  This  decision 
was  afterward  set  aside,  and,  says  Chaplain  Story,  "it 
was  agreed  to  prosecute  the  battel  on  the  enemies'  right, 
by  that  means  proposing  to  draw  part  of  their  strength 
from  Aghrim  [so  he  spells  it]  Castle,  nigh  which  their 
main  body  was  posted,  that  so  our  right  might  have  the 
easier  passage  over  to  attack  their  left,  and  then  our 
whole  army  might  have  opportunity  to  engage.  This,  I 
am  told,  was  the  advice  of  Major-General  Mackay,  a 

The  People's  History  of  Ireland  339 

man  of  great  judgment  and  long  experience,  and  it  had 
its  desired  success." 

We  will  take  the  Williamite  chaplain's  account  of  the 
movement  against  the  Irish  right  wing,  which  immedi- 
ately followed  the  council  of  war:  "About  half  an  hour 
past  four  in  the  afternoon,  a  part  of  our  left  wing  moved 
toward  the  enemy,,  and,  at  five  o'clock,  the  battel  began 
afresh.  A  party  of  our  foot  marched  up  to  their  ditches, 
all  strongly  guarded  with  musketiers,  and  their  horse 
posted  advantageously  to  sustain  them :  here  we  fired  one 
upon  the  other  for  a  considerable  time,  and  the  Irish  be- 
haved themselves  like  men  of  another  nation  [mark  the 
ungracious  sneer],  defending  their  ditches  stoutly;  for 
they  would  maintain  one  side  till  our  men  put  their 
pieces  over  at  the  other,  and  then,  having  lines  of  com- 
munication from  one  ditch  to  another,  they  would  pres- 
ently post  themselves  again,  and  flank  us.  This  occasioned 
great  firing  on  both  sides,  which  continued  on  the  left 
nigh  an  hour  and  a  half,  ere  the  right  of  our  army  or  the 
centre  engaged,  except  with  their  cannon,  which  played 
on  both  sides.  All  this  time,  our  men  were  coming  up  in 
as  good  order  as  the  inconveniency  of  the  ground  would 
allow,  and  now  General  Mackay  and  the  rest,  seeing  the 
enemy  draw  off  several  bodies  of  horse  and  foot  from  the 
left,  and  move  toward  their  right,  when  our  men  pressed 
them  very  hard;  they  [the  English  generals]  laid  hold 
on  that  advantage,  and  ordered  the  foot  to  march  over 
the  bogg,  which  fronted  the  enemies''  main  battel.  Colonel 
Earl,  Colonel  Herbert,  Colonel  Creighton,  and  Colonel 
Brewer's  regiments  went  over  at  the  narrowest  place, 
where  the  hedges  on  the  enemies'  side  run  farthest  into 
the  bogg.  These  four  regiments  were  ordered  to  march 

340  The  People's  History  of  Ireland 

to  the  lowest  ditches,  adjoining  to  the  side  of  the  bogg, 
and  there  to  post  themselves  till  our  horse  could  come 
about  by  Aghrim  Castle  and  sustain  them,  and  till  the 
other  foot  marched  over  the  bogg  below,  where  it  was 
broader,  and  were  sustained  by  Colonel  Foulk's  and  Briga- 
dier Stewart's  [forces].  Colonel  Earl  advanced  with  his 
regiment,  and  the  rest  after  him,  over  the  bogg,  and  a 
rivulet  that  ran  through  it,  being  most  of  them  up  to  their 
middles  in  mudd  and  water.  The  Irish  at  their  near 
approach  to  the  ditches  fired  upon  them,  but  our  men 
contemning  all  disadvantages,  advanced  immediately  to 
the  lowest  hedges,  and  beat  the  Irish  from  thence.  The 
enemy,  however,  did  not  retreat  far,  but  posted  them- 
selves in  the  next  ditches  before  us,  which  our  men  see- 
ing and  disdaining  [sic]  to  suffer  their  lodging  so  near 
us,  they  would  needs  beat  them  from  thence  also,  and  so 
from  one  hedge  to  another,  till  they  got  very  nigh  the 
enemies'  main  battel.  But  the  Irish  had  so  ordered  the 
matter  as  to  make  an  easy  passage  for  their  horse  amongst 
all  those  hedges  and  ditches,  by  which  means  they  poured 
in  great  numbers  both  of  horse  and  foot  upon  us :  which 
Colonel  Earl  seeing,  encouraged  his  men  by  advancing  be- 
fore them,  and  saying :  'There  is  no  way  to  come  off  but 
to  be  brave!'  As  great  an  example  of  true  courage  and 
generosity  as  any  man  this  day  living  [1693],  But, 
being  flanked  and  fronted,  as  also  exposed  to  the  enemies' 
shot  from  the  adjacent  ditches,  our  men  were  forced  to 
quit  their  ground,  and  betake  themselves  to  the  bogg 
again,  whither  they  were  followed,  or  rather  drove  [sic] 
down  by  main  strength  of  horse  and  foot,  and  a  great 
many  killed.  Colonel  Earl  and  Colonel  Herbert  were 
here  taken  prisoners;  the  former,  after  twice  taking 

The  People's  History  of  Ireland  341 

and  retaking,  got  free  at  last,  tho'  not  without  being 

"While  this  was  doing  here,  Colonel  St.  John,  Colonel 
Tiffin,  Lord  George  Hambleton,  the  French  [Huguenots] 
and  other  regiments  were  marching  below  on  the  same 
bogg.  The  Irish,  in  the  meantime,  laid  so  close  in  their 
ditches  that  several  were  doubtful  whether  they  had  any 
men  at  that  place  or  not;  but  they  were  convinced  of  it 
at  last;  for  no  sooner  were  the  French  and  the  rest  got 
within  twenty  yards,  or  less,  of  the  ditches,  but  the  Irish 
fired  most  furiously  upon  them,  which  our  men  as  bravely 
sustained,  and  pressed  forwards,  tho'  they  could  scarce 
see  one  another  for  the  smoak  [sic] .  And  now  the  thing 
seemed  so  doubtful,  for  some  time,  that  the  by-standers 
would  rather  have  given  it  on  the  Irish  side,  for  they  had 
driven  our  foot  in  the  centre  so  far  back  that  they  were 
got  almost  in  a  line  with  some  of  our  great  guns,  planted 
near  the  bogg,  which  we  had  not  the  benefit  of  at  that 
juncture,  because  of  the  mixture  of  our  men  and  theirs. 

"Major-General  Ruvigny's  French  horse  and  Sir  John 
Lanier's,  being  both  posted  on  the  right,  were  afterward 
drawn  to  the  left,  where  they  did  very  good  service. 
And  the  right  wing  of  our  horse,  in  the  meantime,  were 
making  what  haste  they  could  to  succor  our  foot;  for, 
seeing  the  danger,  and,  in  fact,  that  all  was  in  hazard  by 
reason  of  the  difficulty  of  the  pass,  they  did  more  than 
men,  in  pressing  and  tumbling  over  a  very  dangerous 
place,  and  that  amongst  showers  of  bullets,  from  a  regi- 
ment of  dragoons  and  two  regiments  of  foot,  posted 
conveniently  under  cover  by  the  enemy,  to  obstruct  our 
passage.  Our  horse  at  this  place  were  sustained  by 
Major-General  Kirke  and  Colonel  Gustavus  Hambleton's 

The  People's  History  of  Ireland 

foot,  who,  after  we  had  received  the  enemies'  fire  for  a 
considerable  time,  marched  under  the  walls  of  the  castle, 
and  lodged  themselves  in  a  dry  ditch,  in  the  throng  of  the 
enemies'  shot  [globular  buttons  cut  from  their  jackets, 
when  their  ammunition  failed],  and  some  other  old  walls 
and  ditches  adjoining." 

Commenting  on  the  foregoing  account  of  the  William- 
ite  chaplain,  Mr.  O'Callaghan,  in  his  "Green  Book,"  page 
224,  says:  "He  [Story]  has  the  same  fraudulent  color- 
ing I  have  previously  exposed  respecting  this  [the  Hugue- 
not] portion  of  the  English  left  having  'kept  their 
ground.'  The  Huguenot  narrative  [of  the  battle]  is  only 
wrong  in  the  supposition  that  La  Forest  [Huguenot  gen- 
eral] on  the  English  left  was  successful  with  the  French 
[Huguenot]  infantry,  before  Ruvigny  [Huguenot  gen- 
eral], with  his  horse,  had  conquered  in  the  centre;  the 
first  progress  of  the  English  having  been  on  their  right 
opposite  Aughrim  .  .  .  where  Sir  Francis  Compton  with 
the  van  and  Mackay  with  the  rest  of  the  English  horse 
succeeded  in  forcing  a  passage;  secondly,  on  the  centre, 
where  Talmash  next  to  Mackay,  and  Ruvigny  next  to 
Talmash  advanced;  and,  thirdly,  on  the  left,  where  La 
Forest  first,  and  then  the  Danish  horse  and  foot  were  en- 
abled to  cross." 


Battle  of  Aughrim  Continued— Its  Crisis— The  English  Turn  Irish 

Left— St.  Ruth  Killed  by  Cannon  Ball— Confusion  and 

Final  Defeat  of  Irish  Army 

THE  lodgment  made  by  the  English,  or,  rather,  Ulster 
regiment  of  Gustavus  Hamilton  in  the  dry  ditch,  as 
described  by  Chaplain  Story,  together  with  another  lodg- 
ment made  in  front  of  the  Irish  left  centre  by  some  of 

The  People's  History  of  Ireland  343 

the  infantry  who  escaped  the  slaughter  when  they  were 
so  gallantly  repulsed  at  that  point  shortly  before,  how- 
ever effected,  threw  the  chances  of  victory,  for  the  first 
time  that  day,  heavily  on  the  side  of  De  Ginkel.  St. 
Ruth,  whose  sharp  attention  was,  doubtless,  mainly  drawn 
off  toward  his  centre  and  right,  where  the  battle  had 
raged  fiercely  and  continuously  for  nearly  two  hours,  soon 
became  aware  of  the  movement  inaugurated  by  the  ene- 
my's cavalry  at  the  castle  pass.  He  seemed  astonished, 
conceiving  that  the  point  was  strongly  garrisoned,  and 
asked  of  his  officers :  "What  do  they  mean  ?"  The  reply 
was :  "They  mean  to  pass  there  and  flank  our  left !"  St. 
Ruth  observed  them  for  a  moment,  laughed  incredulous- 
ly, having  still  "that  fatal  confidence  in  the  strength  of 
his  left  flank,"  and  exclaimed  in  his  impetuous  fashion: 
"Pardieu !  but  they  are  brave !  What  a  pity  they  should 
be  so  exposed!"  A  few  minutes  previously,  exhilarated 
by  the  splendid  prowess  of  the  Irish  infantry,  in  the  cen- 
tre and  at  Urachree,  he  threw  his  plumed  hat  in  the  air 
anu  shouted :  "Well  done,  my  children !  The  day  is 
ours !  Now  we  will  beat  them  back  even  to  the  gates  of 

The  unlooked-for  passage  of  the  English  horse  on  the 
Irish  left  has  been  variously  explained,  or,  rather,  sought 
to  be  explained.  Almost  every  Irish  writer,  the  careful 
O'Callaghan  included,  attributes  the  disaster  to  a  lack 
of  proper  ammunition  on  the  part  of  Colonel  Walter 
Bourke's  regiment,  to  which  was  committed  the  defence 
of  the  castle.  Having  exhausted  their  original  supply, 
the  soldiers  opened  the  barrels  in  reserve  and  found  that 
the  bullets  were  cast  for  the  calibre  of  the  English  guns 
which  they  had  used  earlier  in  the  war,  and  were  too  large 

344  The  People's  History  of  Ireland 

for  the  bore  of  the  French  muskets,  which  they  carried 
at  Aughrim.  Other  authors  aver  that  when  the  Irish  left 
was  weakened,  to  strengthen  the  right,  the  front  in- 
stead of  the  rear  line  of  the  covering  brigade  (Henry 
Luttrell's)  was  withdrawn,  thus  enabling  the  infantry 
that  accompanied  Sir  Francis  Compton's  horse — who 
were  twice  repulsed,  but,  being  heavily  reinforced,  again 
advanced — to  post  themselves  in  "the  dry  ditch"  referred 
to  by  Chaplain  Story;  while  General  Talmash  made  a 
corresponding  lodgment,  with  his  rallied  foot,  on  the 
right  centre.  Gross  carelessness,  deliberate  treason,  or 
both  combined,  contributed  to  the  Irish  disaster.  St. 
Ruth  himself,  however,  would  not  seem  to  have  been 
much  concerned  by  the  apparition  of  the  English  cav- 
alry forming  toward  his  left  flank,  in  the  small  area  of 
firm  ground,  just  across  from  the  old  castle.  On  the 
contrary,  like  Napoleon  before  the  final  charge  at  Water- 
loo, "the  flash  of  victory  passed  into  his  eyes,"  and,  as 
he  observed  the  enemy  forming  with  some  difficulty  in 
that  narrow  space,  while  the  single  infantry  regiment  in 
the  dry  ditch  cowering  under  the  rain  of  Irish  bullets, 
cried  out  to  his  staff,  "We  have  won  the  battle,  gentle- 
men! They  are  beaten.  Now  let  us  beat  them  to  the 
purpose!"  His  bodyguard  was  formed  in  rear  of  the 
staff  and  he  had  already  ordered  his  cavalry  reserve  to 
report  to  him.  Therefore,  these  formidable  squadrons 
came  up  at  a  trot  that  shook  the  ground  over  the  hill 
behind  him.  We  are  not  informed  of  the  name  of  the 
officer  who  led  them — fortunately  for  his  fame,  for  he 
must  have  been  either  a  dastard  or  a  traitor.  Instead  of 
committing  the  command  to  a  subordinate  general,  as  he 
should  have  done,  St.  Ruth  prepared  to  lead  the  attack  in 

The  People's  History  of  Ireland  345 

person,  and  the  mass  of  horsemen,  proud  and  confident, 
began  to  move  slowly  down  the  slope  in  the  direction  of 
the  disheartened  but  still  determined  enemy.  The  general, 
dismounting,  halted  for  a  brief  space  at  the  battery  which 
defended  that  flank  of  the  army,  addressed  some  remarks 
to  the  officer  in  command,  and,  it  is  said,  directed  the 
fire  of  one  of  the  cannon,  with  his  own  hand,  toward  a 
particular  point  of  the  causeway  leading  to  the  castle. 
Then  he  remounted  his  superb  gray  charger — the  third 
he  had  ridden  that  fatal  day — and,  dressed  as  he  was  in 
full  uniform,  made  a  conspicuous  mark  for  the  English 
gunners.  He  drew  his  sword,  his  hard  features,  accord- 
ing to  tradition,  kindling  with  enthusiasm,  and  was  about 
to  utter  the  command  to  charge  Compton's  and  Levin- 
son's  cavalry — a  charge  that  must  have  given  the  victory 
to  Ireland,  because,  according  to  Macaulay,  De  Ginkel 
already  meditated  a  retreat — when,  right  before  the  eyes 
of  his  horrified  followers,  his  head  was  dashed  from  his 
shoulders  by  a  cannon  shot,  fired  from  the  English  bat- 
tery at  the  other  side  of  the  bog!  His  sword  remained 
firmly  gripped  in  his  right  hand,  but  his  affrighted  horse 
galloped  down  the  hill,  the  body  of  the  rider  remaining 
erect  in  the  saddle,  until  it  was  knocked  off  by  the  over- 
hanging branches  of  a  tree  whose  remnants  are  still 
pointed  out  to  the  traveler.  A  general  paralysis  of  the 
Irish  left  wing,  chiefly  among  the  horse,  would  seem  to 
have  immediately  followed  the  sudden  and  ghastly  death 
of  St.  Ruth.  The  French  attendants  at  once  threw  a 
cloak  over  the  headless  trunk,  with  the  well-meant,  but, 
as  it  turned  out,  ill-considered  object  of  concealing  the 
general's  unlooked-for  fall  from  the  all  but  victorious 
Irish  army. 

346  The  People's  History  of  Ireland 

St.  Ruth's  bodyguard  halted  the  moment  he  fell, 
and,  when  the  servants  bore  the  body  over  the  hill  to- 
ward the  rear,  they  acted  as  escort.  The  Irish  horse, 
through  the  timidity  or  treachery  of  their  chief,  halted 
also,  and,  unaccountably,  followed  the  movement  in  re- 
treat of  the  bodyguard.  The  single  word  "Charge!" 
uttered  by  any  general  officer,  before  the  cavalry  retired, 
would  have  saved  the  day;  but  it  was  never  uttered. 
The  stubborn  Mackay  and  his  lieutenants,  from  their 
position  near  the  castle  below,  divined,  from  the  confu- 
sion they  observed  on  the  near  hillside,  that  something 
fatal  had  occurred.  They  took  fresh  heart.  More  of 
their  cavalry,  strongly  supported  by  infantry,  came  up. 
All  these  reheartened  troops  began  to  push  forward  be- 
yond the  pass,  and  even  on  their  beaten  centre  and  left 
the  long-baffled  British  and  their  allies  again  assumed 
the  offensive.  No  orders  reached  the  Irish  troops — 
mainly  foot — still  in  position  on  the  right  and  centre 
and  even  on  a  portion  of  the  left — for  the  order  of 
battle  had  perished  with  St.  Ruth.  Was  it  possible  that, 
impressed  by  repeated  dissensions,  he  doubted  the  fidelity 
of  his  chiefs  and  feared  to  take  any  of  them  into  his 
confidence?  He  must  have  misjudged  most  of  them  sorely 
if  this  was  the  case.  Mere  selfishness  or  vanity  can  not 
explain  his  fateful  omission.  The  English  cavalry,  now 
practically  unopposed,  poured  through  the  pass,  pene- 
trated to  the  firm  ground  on  the  north  slope  of  the  hill, 
and,  finally,  appeared  in  rear  of  the  infantry  of  the  Irish 
left  wing.  Their  foot,  too,  had  succeeded  in  making 
firm  lodgment  in  the  lowest  ditches.  The  Irish  still  con- 
tinued to  fight  bravely,  "but  without  order  or  direction." 
At  the  sight  of  the  repeatedly  routed  British  infantry 

The  People's  History  of  Ireland  347 

crossing  the  bog  in  the  centre,  and  the  cavalry  threaten- 
ing their  left  and  rear,  it  is  averred  by  Boyle  that  a  cry 
of  "Treason!"  rang  through  the  ranks  of  the  regiments 
so  placed  as  to  be  able  to  observe  the  hostile  movements. 
The  enemy  now  vigorously  attacked  the  Irish  right  and 
centre,  but  were  as  vigorously  met,  and  again  and  again 
repulsed.  For  a  long  time,  on  the  right  particularly,  they 
were  unable  to  advance,  and  it  would  appear  that  the 
Irish  soldiers  in  their  front  were  totally  ignorant  of  what 
had  occurred  in  other  parts  of  the  field.  The  Irish  in- 
fantry on  the  left,  destitute  of  ammunition  and  having 
ejapended  even  their  buttons  and  ramrods  for  projectiles, 
retired  within  the  castle,  where  nearly  all  of  them  were 
finally  slaughtered;  or  else  broke  off  to  the  left,  toward 
Kilconnell,  and  made  for  the  large,  red  bog,  which  almost 
surrounded  that  flank,  where  many  of  them  found  refuge 
from  the  sabres  of  the  pursuing  cavalry.  But  even  still 
the  devoted  centre  and  right,  although  furiously  as- 
saulted, refused  to  give  way.  At  last,  the  uproar  toward 
Aughrim,  and  the  bullets  of  the  outflanking  enemy  in 
the  left  rear,  taking  them  in  reverse,  warned  these  brave 
troops  that  their  position  had  become  desperate.  Twi- 
light had  already  set  in — it  was  more  than  an  hour  after 
the  fall  of  St.  Ruth — when  the  English  horse  and  foot 
appeared  almost  behind  them,  toward  the  northwest; 
while  the  Dutch,  Danish,  and  Huguenot  cavalry,  so  long 
repelled  at  Urachree,  supported  by  the  foot  that  had,  at 
long  run,  crossed  the  morassr  began  to  hem  them  in  on 
all  sides.  Their  bravest  leaders  had  fallen,  but  this  ad- 
mirable infantry  retired  slowly  from  inclosure  to  in- 
closure,  fighting  the  fight  of  despair,  until  they  reached 
their  camp,  where  the  tents  were  still  standing  in  the 

348  The  People's   History  of  Ireland 

order  in  which  they  were  pitched.  Here  they  made  their 
last  heroic  stand,  but  were,  at  length,  broken  and  fled 
toward  the  red  bog  already  mentioned.  The  English 
leveled  the  tents,  so  as  to  render  pursuit  more  open,  and 
then  a  dreadful  slaughter  of  the  broken  Irish  foot  fol- 
lowed. Few  of  these  brave  men,  worthy  of  a  better  fate, 
escaped  the  swords  of  the  hostile  horse.  "Our  foreign- 
ers, and  especially  the  Danes,  make  excellent  pursuers," 
writes  Chaplain  Story  grimly.  Irish  historians  say  that 
two  of  the  Irish  regiments,  disdaining  to  fly,  took  posi- 
tion in  a  ravine,  and  there  waited  "till  morning's  sun 
should  rise  and  give  them  light  to  die."  They  were  dis- 
covered by  the  enemy  next  morning  and  perished  to  a 
man!  The  spot  where  they  died  is  still  pointed  out  and 
is  called  by  the  peasantry  "the  glen  of  slaughter." 

We  have,  unhappily,  no  better  authority  than  tradition 
for  stating  that,  toward  the  end  of  the  battle,  a  part  of  the 
Irish  cavalry,  led  by  Sarsfield,  covered  the  retreat  of  the 
survivors  of  the  Irish  foot  on  Loughrea  and  Limerick. 
In  fact  there  seems  to  be  a  complete  mystery  about  the 
action  of  the  Irish  cavalry  after  the  death  of  the  French 
general.  Certain  it  is  that  this  force  did  not  act  with  the 
vigor  it  showed  in  the  early  part  of  the  combat  on  the 
right  or  with  the  spirit  it  displayed  at  the  Boyne ;  and  this 
fact  deepens  the  doubt  as  to  whether  Sarsfield  was  in  the 
fight  or  not.  Had  it  not  been,  as  we  are  informed  by  the 
learned  Abbe  McGeoghegan,  in  his  able  "History  of 
Ireland,"  for  one  O'Reilly,  the  almoner  of  a  regiment, 
who  caused  the  charge  to  be  sounded  as  the  fugitives 
passed  through  a  boggy  defile  on  the  line  of  retreat,  the 
entire  Irish  infantry  might  have  been  destroyed.  They 
were  also  aided  by  darkness,  caused  by  "a  thick  misty 

The  People's  History  of  Ireland  349 

rain,"  brought  on,  no  doubt,  by  the  detonations  of  the 
firearms,  acting  on  a  humid  atmosphere.  Numbers  of 
small  arms  and  other  munitions  were  abandoned  in  the 
flight ;  all  the  cannon,  most  of  the  colors,  and  the  whole 
camp  material  fell  into  the  hands  of  the  enemy.  Aughrim 
was  to  Ireland  what  Culloden  was  to  Scotland  and  Wa- 
terloo to  France — an  irretrievable  military  disaster,  re- 
deemed only  by  the  desperate  valor  of  the  defeated  army. 
Even  the  most  bitter  and  partisan  of  the  English  annalists 
admit,  although  with  manifest  reluctance,  that  the  Irish 
army  fought  heroically  in  this  murderous  battle.  Its  losses 
are  placed  by  Story,  who  witnessed  the  conflict  through- 
out, at  7,000  killed  on  the  spot  and  500,  including  officers, 
made  prisoners.  This  statement  of  his  shows  conclu- 
sively that  almost  all  of  the  Irish  wounded  were  put  to 
the  sword.  Other  writers,  including  King  James  himself, 
make  the  Irish  loss  somewhat  less,  but  we  are  inclined 
to  think  that  Story,  in  this  case,  came  pretty  near  to  the 
truth.  He  says  in  his  interesting  narrative,  "looking 
amongst  the  dead  three  days  after,  when  all  of  ours  and 
some  of  theirs  were  buried,  I  reckoned  in  some  small 
inclosures  150,  in  others  120,  etc.,  lying  most  of  them 
in  the  ditches  where  they  were  shot,  and  the  rest  from 
the  top  of  the  hill,  where  their  camp  had  been,  looked  like 
a  great  flock  of  sheep,  scattered  up  and  down  the  country 
for  almost  four  miles  round."  The  bodies  had  been 
stripped  by  the  camp  followers,  which  accounts  for  the 
white  appearance  to  which  Story  makes  allusion.  Most 
of  these  corpses  were  inhumanly  left  above  ground,  to  be 
the  prey  of  birds  and  beasts,  by  the  conquerors,  and  thus 
Aughrim  is  known  to  the  Irish  people  as  the  "Field  of 
our  Unburied  Dead."  It  was  customary  a  generation 

350  The  People's  History  of  Ireland 

ago,  and  may  be  so  in  our  day,  for  the  Catholic  peas- 
antry passing  along  the  roads  that  wind  around  Kilcom- 
modan,  to  uncover  their  heads  reverently  and  offer  up 
prayers  for  the  souls  of  the  heroes  of  their  race  who 
died  there  for  faith,  land,  and  liberty. 

Story  says  he  never  could  find  out  what  became  of  St. 
Ruth's  corpse,  "some  say  that  it  was  left  stripped  amongst 
the  other  dead  when  our  men  pursued  beyond  the  hill, 
and  others  that  it  was  thrown  into  a  bog."  In  the  neigh- 
borhood of  Aughrim  it  was  long  believed  that  while  still 
the  left  of  the  Irish  army  remained  in  position,  the 
French  staff  officers  laid  the  remains  to  rest  under  the 
chancel  floor  of  the  adjacent  Abbey  of  Kilconnell.  Other 
traditions  are  to  the  effect  that  they  were  buried  in  Lough- 
rea  Abbey,  or  beside  those  of  Lord  Galway,  who  fell  in 
the  same  battle,  in  the  ruined  church  of  Athenry.  Boyle, 
after  mentioning  the  two  last-named  probabilities,  says : 
"There  is,  however,  reason  to  doubt  both,  and  the  writer 
is  aware  that  the  people  of  the  locality  where  the  battle 
was  fought,  directed  by  tradition,  point  to  a  few  stunted 
white  thorns,  to  the  west  of  the  hill  toward  Loughrea, 
beneath  which,  they  say,  rest  the  ashes  of  that  great  but 
unfortunate  general." 


Mortality  Among  Officers  of  Rank  on  Both  Sides — Acknowledged 

English  Loss  at  Aughrim — English  and  Irish  Comments 

on  Conduct  of  Battle 

BESIDES  St.  Ruth,  the  chief  officers  killed  on  the 
Irish  side  were,  according  to  Story's  account,  Gen- 
eral Lord  Kilmallock,  General  Lord  Galway,  Brigadier- 
General    Connel     (O'Connell),    Brigadier-General    W. 

The  People's  History  of  Ireland  351 

Mansfield  Barker,  Brigadier-General  Henry  M.J.  O'Neill, 
Colonel  Charles  Moore,  his  lieutenant-colonel  and  major; 
Colonel  David  Bourke,  Colonel  Ulick  Bourke,  Colonel 
Connor  McGuire,  Colonel  James  Talbot,  Colonel  Ar- 
thur, Colonel  Mahony,  Colonel  Morgan,  Major  Pur- 
cell,  Major  O'Donnell,  Major  Sir  John  Everard, 
with  several  others  of  superior  rank,  "besides,  at  least, 
five  hundred  captains  and  subordinate  officers."  This 
latter  statement  has  been  challenged  by  Irish  histo- 
rians, who  claim  that  non-commissioned  officers  were  in- 
cluded in  the  list.  Story  omitted  from  the  number  of 
superior  officers  slain  the  name  of  Colonel  Felix  O'Neill, 
Judge-Advocate-General  of  the  Irish  army,  whose  body 
was  found  on  the  field.  Of  the  less  than  five  hundred 
Irish  prisoners  taken,  twenty-six  were  general  or  field 
officers,  including  General  Lord  Duleek,  General  Lord 
Slane,  General  Lord  Bophin,  General  Lord  Kilmaine, 
General  Dorrington,  General  John  Hambleton  (Hamil- 
ton), Brigadier-General  Tuite,  Colonel  Walter  Bourke, 
Colonel  Gordon  O'Neill,  Colonel  Butler,  Colonel  O'Con- 
nell  (ancestor  of  Daniel  O'Connell),  Colonel  Edmund 
Madden,  Lieutenant-Colonel  John  Chappel,  Lieutenant- 
Colonel  John  Butler,  Lieutenant-Colonel  Baggot,  Lieu- 
tenant-Colonel John  Border,  Lieutenant-Colonel  McGin- 
ness,  Lieutenant-Colonel  Rossiter,  Lieutenant-Colonel 
McGuire,  Major  Patrick  Lawless,  Major  Kelly,  Major 
Grace,  Major  William  Bourke,  Major  Edmund  Butler, 
Major  Edmund  Broghill,  Major  John  Hewson,  "with 
30  captains,  25  lieutenants,  23  ensigns,  5  cornets,  4  quar- 
termasters, and  an  adjutant." 

Chaplain  Story,  to  whom,  with  all  his  faults,  we  are 
much  indebted  for  the  details  of  this  momentous  battle — 

Ireland— 16  fol.  I. 

352  The  People's  History  of  Ireland 

one  of  the  few  "decisive  battles"  of  the  world — says.* 
"We  [the  English  and  their  allies]  lost  73  officers,  who 
were  killed  in  this  action,  with  in  wounded,  as  appears 
by  the  inserted  lists  [vide  his  History  of  the  "Wars  in 
Ireland"]  of  both  horse  and  foot,  given  in  two  days 
after  by  the  general's  command,  and  sent  to  the  king." 
The  lists  referred  to  acknowledged,  also,  600  soldiers 
killed  and  906  wounded.  The  allied  losses  were,  no 
doubt,  underestimated  for  political  effect  in  England, 
which  had  been  taught  that  one  Englishman  could  kill 
any  number  of  Irishmen  without  much  fear  of  a  fatal 
result  to  himself.  And  this  superstition  was  useful,  we 
believe,  to  the  morale  of  the  British  soldiers  of  the  pe- 
riod, whose  stomachs  failed  them  so  notably  when  they 
were  "up  against"  the  defences  of  Limerick,  as  will  be 
seen  hereafter.  Captain  Taylor,  a  Williamite  writer, 
who  was  present  at  the  battle  and  published  a  graphic  ac- 
count of  it,  says  that  the  loss  of  the  allies  (British,  Dutch, 
Danes,  Germans,  and  Huguenots)  was  little  less  than 
that  of  the  Irish,  most  of  the  latter  having  fallen  in  the 
retreat  after  the  death  of  General  St.  Ruth.  Of  the 
Anglo-Dutch  troopers,  there  were  killed  by  the  Irish  cav- 
alry at  the  pass  of  Urachree,  in  the  early  part  of  the 
fight,  202,  and  wounded  125,  thus  showing  the  superior 
strength,  reach  of  arm,  and  dexterity  of  the  Irish  horse- 
men. In  hand-to-hand  conflicts,  whether  mounted  or 
on  foot,  the  Irish  soldiery,  in  whatever  service,  ever  ex- 
celled, with  sword  or  battle-axe,  pike  or  bayonet.  Clon- 
tibret  and  the  Yellow  Ford,  Benburb  and  Fontenoy,  Al- 
manza  and  Albuera,  Inkerman  and  Antietam  bear  witness 
to  the  truth  of  this  assertion.  As  a  charging  warrior, 
the  Irishman  has  never  been  surpassed,  and,  no  matter 

The  People's  History  of  Ireland  353 

how  bloodily  repulsed,  an  Irish  regiment  or  an  Irish 
army  is  ever  willing  to  try  again.  There  may  be  sol- 
diers as  brave  as  they,  but  none  are  braver,  even  when 
they  fight  in  causes  with  which  they  have  no  natural  sym- 
pathy. It  may  be  set  down  as  a  military  axiom  that  the 
Irish  soldier  is,  by  force  of  untoward  circumstances,  fre- 
quently a  mercenary,  but  rarely,  or  never,  a  coward. 

The  principal  officers  who  fell  on  the  English  side, 
at  Aughrim,  were  Major-General  Holztapfel,  who  com- 
manded Lord  Portland's  horse  at  Urachree;  Colonel 
Herbert,  killed  in  the  main  attack  on  the  Irish  centre ; 
Colonel  Mongatts,  who  died  among  the  Irish  ditches 
while  trying  to  rally  his  routed  command;  Major  Devon- 
ish,  Major  Cornwall,  Major  Cox,  and  Major  Colt.  Many 
other  officers  of  note  died  of  their  wounds  at  the  field 
hospital  established  on  the  neighboring  heights  of  Gar- 
bally — now  converted  into  one  of  the  most  delightful 
demesnes  in  Europe;  and  some  who  survived  the  field 
hospital  died  in  the  military  hospitals  of  Athlone  and 
Dublin.  Those  who  fell  in  the  battle  were  buried  on  the 
field,  with  the  usual  military  honors. 

Captain  Parker,  who  fought  in  the  English  army  in 
this  battle,  and  who  has  left  a  narrative,  frequently  quoted 
by  O'Callaghan,  Haverty,  Boyle,  and  other  historians, 
says :  "Our  loss  was  about  3,000  men  in  killed  and 
wounded,"  and,  as  he  was  in  the  thick  of  the  fight  and 
came  out  unwounded,  he  had  full  opportunity,  after  the 
battle  closed,  to  verify  his  figures.  He  certainly  could 
have  no  object  in  exaggerating  the  English  loss,  for  the 
tendency  of  all  officers  is  to  underrate  the  casualties  in 
their  army.  And  Captain  Parker  says,  further:  "Had  it 
not  been  that  St.  Ruth  fell,  it  were  hard  to  say  how 

354  The  People's  History  of  Ireland 

matters  would  have  ended,  for,  to  do  him  justice,  not- 
withstanding his  oversight  at  Athlone,  he  was  certainly 
a  gallant,  brave  man,  and  a  good  officer,  as  appeared  by 
the  disposition  he  made  of  his  army  this  day  ....  His 
centre  and  right  wing  [after  his  fall]  still  held  their 
ground,  and  had  he  lived  to  order  Sarsfield  down  to  sus- 
tain his  left  wing,  it  would  have  given  a  turn  to  affairs 
on  that  side" — "or,"  O'Callaghan  says  in  comment,  "in 
other  words,  have  given  the  victory  to  the  Irish." 

Lord  Macaulay — anti-Irish  as  all  his  writings  prove 
him  to  have  been — says  in  his  "History  of  England": 
"Those  [the  Irish]  works  were  defended  with  a  reso- 
lution such  as  extorted  some  words  of  ungracious  eulogy 
even  from  men  who  entertained  the  strongest  prejudices 
against  the  Celtic  race."  He  then  quotes  Baurnett,  Story, 
and,  finally,  the  London  "Gazette,"  of  July,  1691,  which 
said :  "The  Irish  were  never  known  to  fight  with  more 

In  his  interesting,  but  partial,  "Life  of  William  III," 
published  in  the  beginning  of  the  seventeenth  century, 
Mr.  Harris,  a  fierce  anti- Jacobite,  says :  "It  must,  in  jus- 
tice, be  confessed  that  the  Irish  fought  this  sharp  battle 
with  great  resolution,  which  demonstrates  that  the  many 
defeats  before  this  sustained  by  them  can  not  be  imputed 
to  a  national  cowardice  with  which  some,  without  reason, 
impeached  them;  but  to  a  defect  in  military  discipline 
and  the  use  of  arms,  or  to  a  want  of  skill  and  experience 
in  their  commanders.  And  now,  had  not  St.  Ruth  been 
taken  off,  it  would  have  been  hard  to  say  what  the  con- 
sequence of  this  day  would  have  been." 

Now  we  will  give  a  few  comments  of  the  Irish  his- 
torians upon  this  Hastings  of  their  country :  O'Halloran, 

The  People's  History  of  Ireland  355 

who  was  born  about  the  time  the  battle  was  fought,  and 
who,  as  a  native  of  Limerick,  must  have  been,  at  least, 
as  familiar  with  soldiers  who  fought  in  the  Wiljiamite 
wars  as  we  are  with  the  Union  and  Confederate  veterans, 
in  Vol.  i,  page  106,  of  his  "History  of  Ireland,"  replying 
to  some  slurs  cast  by  the  Frenchman,  Voltaire,  on  the 
Irish  people,  says :  "He  should  have  recollected  that,  at 
the  battle  of  Aughrim,  15,000  Irish,  ill  paid  and  worse 
clothed,  fought  with  25,000  men  highly  appointed  and 
the  flower  of  all  Europe,  composed  of  English,  Dutch, 
Flemings,  and  Danes,  vicing  with  each  other.  That, 
after  a  most  bloody  fight  of  some  hours,  these  began  to 
shrink  on  all  sides,  and  would  have  received  a  most  com- 
plete overthrow  but  for  the  treachery  of  the  commander 
of  the  Irish  horse,  and  the  death  of  their  general  [St. 
Ruth]  killed  by  a  random  shot." 

On  pages  532-533  of  the  same  work,  the  historian  says : 
"Sir  John  Dalrymple  tells  us  that  [at  Aughrim]  the 
priests  ran  up  and  down  amongst  the  ranks,  swearing 
some  on  the  sacrament,  encouraging  others,  and  promis- 
ing eternity  to  all  who  should  gallantly  acquit  themselves 
to  their  country  that  day.  Does  he  mean  this  by  way  of 
apology  for  the  intrepidity  of  the  Irish,  or  to  lessen  the 
applause  they  were  so  well  entitled  to  on  that  day  ?  Have 
they  required  more  persuasions  to  fight  the  battles  of 
foreign  princes  than  the  native  troops,  or  are  they  the 
only  soldiers  who  require  spiritual  comfort  on  the  day 
of  trial  ?  I  never  thought  piety  was  a  reproach  to  soldiers, 
and  it  was,  perhaps,  the  enthusiasm  of  Oliver's  troops 
that  made  them  so  victorious.  This  battle  was,  certainly, 
a  bloody  and  decisive  one.  The  stake  was  great,  the 
Irish  knew  the  value  of  it,  and,  though  very  inferior  to 

356  The  People's  History  of  Ireland 

their  enemies  in  numbers  and  appointments,  and  cha- 
grined by  repeated  losses,  yet  it  must  be  owned  they  fought 
it  well.  Accidents  which  human  wisdom  could  not  fore- 
see, more  than  the  superior  courage  of  their  flushed  ene- 
mies, snatched  from  them  that  victory,  which  already 
began  to  declare  in  their  favor.  Their  bones  yet  (1744) 
lie  scattered  over  the  plains  of  Aughrim,  but  let  that 
justice  be  done  to  their  memories  which  a  brave  and 
generous  enemy  never  refuses." 

Abbe  McGeoghegan,  who  wrote  about  1745,  and  was 
chaplain  of  the  Franco-Irish  Brigade,  says  in  his  "His- 
tory of  Ireland,"  page  603 :  "The  battle  began  at  one 
o'clock,  with  equal  fury  on  both  sides,  and  lasted  till 
night.  James's  infantry  performed  prodigies  of  valor, 
driving  the  enemy  three  times  back  to  their  cannon." 

Rev.  Thomas  Leland,  an  Irish  Protestant  divine,  who 
published  a  history  of  Ireland  about  1763,  after  describ- 
ing the  catastrophe  which  befell  St.  Ruth,  says:  "His 
[St.  R.'s]  cavalry  halted,  and,  as  they  had  no  orders, 
returned  to  their  former  station.  The  Irish  beheld  this 
retreat  with  dismay ;  they  were  confounded  and  disor- 
dered. Sarsfield,  upon  whom  the  command  devolved, 
had  been  neglected  by  the  proud  Frenchman  ever  since 
their  altercation  at  Athlone.  As  the  order  of  battle  had 
not  been  imparted  to  him,  he  could  not  support  the  dis- 
positions of  the  late  general.  The  English,  in  the  mean- 
time, pressed  forward,  drove  the  enemy  to  their  camp, 
pursued  the  advantage  until  the  Irish,  after  an  engage- 
ment supported  with  the  fairest  prospect  of  success, 
while  they  had  a  'general  to  direct  their  valor,  fled 

The  Right  Rev.  Dr.  Fitzgerald,  Episcopalian  bishop, 

The  People's  History  of  Ireland  357 

in  his  "History  of  Limerick,"  published  some  sixty  years 
ago,  says :  "It  [Aughrim]  was  the  bravest  battle  ever 
fought  on  Irish  soil."  The  bishop,  evidently,  had  not 
read  the  lives  of  Art  MacMurrough,  Hugh  O'Neill,  Hugh 
O'Donnell,  and  Owen  Roe  O'Neill,  when  he  penned  the 

"Such,"  writes  O'Callaghan,  at  the  conclusion  of  his 
account  of  it,  in  the  "Green  Book,"  page  230,  "was  the 
battle  of  Aughrim,  or  Kilconnell,  as  the  French  called  it, 
from  the  old  abbey  to  the  left  of  the  Irish  position;  a 
battle  unsuccessful,  indeed,  on  the  side  of  the  Irish,  but 
a  Chaeronea,  or  a  Waterloo,  fought  with  heroism  and 
lost  without  dishonor." 

A.  M.  Sullivan,  in  his  fascinating  "Story  of  Ireland" 
(American  edition,  page  458),  says,  or  rather,  quotes 
from  a  Williamite  authority:  "The  Irish  infantry  were 
so  hotly  engaged  that  they  were  not  aware  either  of  the 
death  of  St.  Ruth  or  of  the  flight  of  the  cavalry,  until 
they  themselves  were  almost  surrounded.  A  panic  and 
confused  flight  were  the  result.  The  cavalry  of  the  right 
wing,  who  were  the  first  in  action  that  day,  were  the  last 
to  quit  the  ground.  ...  St.  Ruth  fell  about  sunset 
[8.10],  and  about  9,  after  three  hours'  [nearer  four 
hours']  hard  fighting,  the  last  of  the  Irish  army  [who 
were  not  killed,  wounded,  or  captured]  had  left  the  field." 

John  Boyle,  in  his  "Battlefields  of  Ireland,"  quotes 
Taylor,  an  English  military  author  who  fought  at  Augh- 
rim, as  saying :  "Those  [the  Irish  dead]  were  nearly  all 
killed  after  the  death  of  St.  Ruth,  for,  up  to  that,  the 
Irish  had  lost  scarcely  a  man;"  and,  says  he,  further, 
"large  numbers  were  murdered,  after  surrender  and  prom- 
ise of  quarter,  by  order  of  General  Ginkel,  and  among 

358  The  People's  History  of  Ireland 

those,  so  murdered,  in  cold  blood,  were  Colonel  O'Moore 
and  that  most  loyal  gentleman  and  chivalrous  soldier, 
Lord  Galway."  This  same  able  writer,  in  concluding 
his  graphic  story  of  the  famous  battle,  remarks,  with  in- 
dignant eloquence :  "It  is  painful  to  speculate  on  the  cause 
that  left  the  Irish  army  without  direction  after  the  death 
of  St.  Ruth.  Many  have  endeavored  to  explain  it,  but 
all — as  well  those  who  doubt  Sarsfield's  presence  on  the 
field  as  those  who  maintain  the  contrary— are  lost  in  con- 
jecture, and  none  who  participated  in  the  battle,  and  sur- 
vived it,  has  placed  the  matter  beyond  speculation.  So 
leaving  that  point  as  time  has  left  it,  what  appears  most 
strange  in  the  connection  is  the  absence  of  all  command 
at  such  a  conjuncture.  The  disposition  of  the  Irish  troops, 
though  dexterous,  was  simple.  The  day  was  all  but 
won.  The  foiling  of  Talmash  (Mackay)  would  have 
been  the  completion  of  victory.  A  force  sufficient  was 
on  his  front;  a  reserve  more  than  ample  to  overwhelm 
him  was  on  its  way  to  the  ground — nay,  drawn  up  and 
even  ready  for  the  word.  The  few  British  troops  that 
held  a  lodgment  in  the  hedges,  at  the  base  of  the  hill, 
were  completely  at  the  mercy  of  those  above  them.  It 
required  no  omniscient  eye  to  see  this,  nor  a  voice  from 
the  clouds  to  impel  them  forward,  and,  surely,  no  mili- 
tary etiquette  weighed  a  feather  in  opposition  to  the  fate 
of  a  nation.  Any  officer  of  note  could  have  directed  the 
movement,  and  many  of  experience  and  approved  courage 
witnessed  the  crisis.  Yet,  in  this  emergency,  all  the  hard- 
won  laurels  of  the  day  were  tarnished,  and  land  and  lib- 
erty were  lost  by  default!  Nor  can  the  rashness  of  St. 
Ruth,  his  reticence  as  to  his  plans,  his  misunderstanding 
with  Sarsfield,  nor  the  absence  of  the  latter,  justify  the 

The  People's  History  of  Ireland  359 

want  of  intrepid  action  among  those  present.  This 
stands  unexplained  and  inexplicable,  nor  will  the  flippant 
appeal  to  Providence,  whose  ways  are  too  frequently  of- 
fered as  an  excuse  for  human  misconduct,  answer  here. 
The  want  of  ammunition  at  such  a  moment  was,  no  doubt, 
of  some  import,  but  the  concurrence  of  events  too  plainly 
indicates  that  Aughrim  was  won  by  the  skill  of  St.  Ruth 
and  the  gallantry  of  his  troops,  and  that  it  was  lost 
through  want  of  decision  in  his  general  officers,  at  a  mo- 
ment the  most  critical  in  the  nation's  history." 

De  Ginkel's  army  remained  in  the  neighborhood  of 
the  field  of  battle  long  enough  to  give  it  an  opportunity 
of  burying  all  of  the  Irish  dead,  were  it  so  disposed.  The 
country-people  remained  away,  in  terror  of  their  lives 
and  poor  belongings — particularly  cattle — until  decom- 
position had  so  far  advanced  as  to  make  the  task  of  sepul- 
ture particularly  revolting.  And  thus  it  came  to  pass 
that  nearly  all  the  Irish  slain  were  left  above  ground,  "ex- 
posed to  the  birds  of  the  air  and  the  beasts  of  the  field; 
many  dogs  frequenting  the  place  afterward,  and  growing 
so  fierce  by  feeding  upon  man's  flesh  that  it  became  dan- 
gerous for  any  single  man  to  pass  that  way.  And," 
continues  Story  in  his  narrative  so  frequently  quoted, 
"there  is  a  true  and  remarkable  story  of  a  greyhound 
[meaning  the  large,  rapacious,  and  ferocious,  Irish  Wolf 
Dog  that  existed  in  those  days,  although  extinct  since 
the  last  century]  belonging  to  an  Irish  officer:  the  gen- 
tleman was  killed  and  stripped  in  the  battle,  whose  body 
the  dog  remained  by  night  and  day,  and  tho'  he  fed 
on  other  corps  [es]  with  the  rest  of  the  dogs,  yet  he 
would  not  allow  them,  or  anything  else,  to  touch  that  of 
his  master.  When  all  the  corps  [es]  were  consumed,  the 

360  The  People's  History  of  Ireland 

other  dogs  departed,  but  he  used  to  go  in  the  night  to  the 
adjacent  villages  for  food,  and  presently  to  return  again 
to  the  place  where  his  master's  bones  were  only  then  left ; 
and  thus  he  continued  till  January  following,  when  one 
of  Colonel  Foulk's  soldiers,  being  quartered  nigh  hand, 
and  going  that  way  by  chance,  the  dog,  fearing  he  came 
to  disturb  his  master's  bones,  flew  upon  the  soldier,  who, 
being  surprised  at  the  suddenness  of  the  thing,  unslung 
his  piece,  then  upon  his  back,  and  killed  the  poor  dog." 
Ireland's  national  poet,  Thomas  Moore,  in  the  beauti- 
ful words,  set  to  that  weirdly  mournful  air :  "The  Lam- 
entation of  Aughrim,"  thus  pours  out  in  deathless  mel- 
ody the  heart  of  his  unfortunate  country: 

"Forget  not  the  field  where  they  perished, — 

The  truest ;  the  last  of  the  brave — 
All  gone  and  the  bright  hopes  we  cherished 
Gone  with  them  and  sunk  in  the  grave. 

"Oh,  could  we  from  death  but  recover 
Those  hearts  as  they  bounded  before, 
In  the  face  of  high  heaven  to  fight  over 
That  combat  for  freedom  once  more. 

"Could  the  chain  for  a  moment  be  riven 

Which  Tyranny  flung  round  us  then — 
No,  'tis  not  in  man,  nor  in  heaven, 
To  let  Tyranny  bind  it  again ! 

"But  'tis  past;  and  tho'  blazoned  in  story 

The  name  of  our  victor  may  be; 
Accurst  is  the  march  of  that  glory 
Which  treads  on  the  hearts  of  the  free! 

"Far  dearer  the  grave,  or  the  prison, 

Illumed  by  one  patriot  name, 
Than  the  trophies  of  all  who  have  risen 
On  liberty's  ruin  to  fame!" 



Second   Siege   of  Limerick — Terrific  Bombardment — The   English, 

Aided  by  Treachery,  Cross  the  Shannon — Massacre  of 

Thomond  Bridge 

THE  decisive  battle  having  been  lost  by  Ireland,  what 
followed  in  this  campaign  became  almost  inevitable. 
Louis  XIV  and  his  ministers  were  criminally  culpable  in 
encouraging  the  Irish  people  to  resistance  when  they  did 
not  mean  to  give  them  effective  aid.  Ireland  had  proved, 
in  breach  and  field,  that  she  needed  no  foreign  troops  to 
do  her  fighting,  but  she  badly  needed  arms,  ammunition, 
quartermaster's  supplies,  and  a  money-chest.  Perhaps  the 
egotism  of  the  French  monarch  and  his  advisers  led  them 
to  underrate  the  importance  of  Ireland  as  a  factor  in  the 
affairs  of  Europe,  and  the  slanders  of  the  perfidious  Lau- 
zun  and  his  lieutenants  had  poisoned  the  mind  of  the  ruler 
of  France  in  regard  to  Irish  valor.  James,  in  his  panic 
flight,  had  also  carried  with  him  to  the  French  court  a 
most  unfavorable  impression,  and  some  Irish  writers — 
among  them  Mr.  Boyle — aver  that  Louis  bitterly  reproached 
the  fallen  king  for  his  ignominious  abandonment  of  Ire- 
land after  the  affair  of  the  Boyne.  James,  however,  man- 
aged to  conciliate  his  haughty  cousin,  and  the  latter  made 
him  still  more  promises  of  effective  assistance. 

De  Ginkel,  whose  immediate  objective,  as  before  the 
great  battle,  was  Galway,  broke  up  his  camp  at  Aughrim 
and  marched  to  Loughrea,  on  July  16.  He  reached  Ath- 
enry  the  following  day,  and  Oranmore  on  the  i8th.  At 
this  point  he  learned  that  Lord  Dillon  was  Governor  of 


364  The  People's  History  of  Ireland 

jt    **  . 

Galway  town,  and  that  the  French  general,  D'Usson,  com- 
manded the  garrison.  Baal  Dearg  O'Donnell,  with  what 
remained  of  his  irregular  force,  hovered  about  the  city, 
but  failed  to  throw  himself  into  it.  It  has  been  stated, 
on  seemingly  good  authority,  that  the  Irish  officials  with- 
in the  town  distrusted  him,  as,  indeed,  was  not  unreason- 
able, seeing  that  Chaplain  Story  tells  us  that  "his  [O'Don- 
nell's]  design  was  to  keep  amongst  the  mountains  till  he 
could  make  terms  for  himself,  upon  which  account  he  writ 
[wrote]  the  general,  De  Ginkel,  before  our  army  removed 
from  Galway."  He  followed  up  this  treason  in  a  practi- 
cal manner,  and,  some  months  later  on,  as  the  Chaplain 
circumstantially  informs  us,  the  adventurer  entered  the 
service  of  William  in  the  Continental  wars,  and  also  re- 
ceived a  pension  of  £500  per  annum,  for  life,  from  the 
English  treasury.  The  same  consideration  was  subse- 
quently given  to  Brigadier  Henry  Luttrell,  on  whom  pop- 
ular Irish  tradition  has  fixed  the  odium  of  having  "sold 
the  pass  at  Aughrim."  It  is  certain  that  twenty-six  years 
afterward,  A.D.  1717,  this  treacherous  "general  of  the  Irish 
horse"  was  shot  to  death  in  a  sedan  chair,  while  being 
carried  through  the  streets  of  Dublin.  No  doubt  remains 
among  the  Irish  people  that  the  deed  was  done  in  reprisal 
for  Luttrell's  villanous  conduct  in  the  campaign  of  1691, 
and  some  have  gone  so  far  as  to  charge  him  with  having 
been  the  officer  who  ordered  the  Irish  cavalry  off  the  field 
immediately  after  the  death  of  St.  Ruth  on  Kilcommodan 

Galway,  before  which  De  Ginkel  appeared  on  the  iQth, 
after  a  respectable  show  of  resistance,  surrendered  with  the 
honors  of  war,  and  sundry  liberal  civil  provisions,  on  the 
22d.  On  the  26th  it  was  evacuated  by  the  Irish  garrison, 

The  People's  History  of  Ireland  365 

which  marched  to  Limerick.  This  capitulation  virtually 
ended  Irish  resistance  in  Connaught,  except  for  the  town  of 
Sligo,  which  was  stubbornly  held  by  the  gallant  Sir  Teague 
O'Regan,  the  hero  of  Charlemont,  against  a  strong  detach- 
ment of  the  English  army,  under  Lord  Granard,  until  the 
following  September  16,  when  he,  too,  having  done  all  that 
a  brave  commander  might,  yielded  his  post  with  honor,  and 
was  allowed  to  join  the  main  Irish  army  in  Limerick  town. 
The  adventurer,  O'Donnell,  assisted  the  English  against 
Sligo.  De  Ginkel,  after  garrisoning  Galway,  moved  toward 
Limerick  by  way  of  Athenry,  Loughrea,  Eyrecourt,  Ban- 
agher  Bridge,  Birr,  Nenagh,  and  Caherconlish,  meeting 
but  feeble  resistance  on  his  route.  He  halted  at  the  last- 
mentioned  place  to  refresh  and  reinforce  his  army,  and  to 
provide  himself  with  a  stronger  siege  train.  This  he  finally 
brought  up  to  the  number  of  sixty  "great  guns,"  none  of 
them  less  than  a  twelve-pounder,  and  about  a  score  of  mor- 
tars for  the  throwing  of  large  shells.  About  this  time,  he  is- 
sued several  proclamations,  and  continued  to  do  so  through- 
out the  subsequent  operations,  with  the  design  of  seducing 
the  Irish  officers  and  soldiers  from  their  allegiance  to  a 
desperate  cause.  In  this  effort  he  was  by  no  means  suc- 
cessful, but  several  clever  Irish  spies  passed  themselves  off 
as  deserters,  and  gave  him  plenty  of  misinformation  re- 
garding the  condition  of  affairs  at  Limerick.  While  in 
this  camp  at  Caherconlish,  the  Dutch  general's  attention  was 
called  to  the  cupidity  of  fhe  sutlers  and  other  camp-follow- 
ers, who  appear  to  have  been  as  greedy  and  conscienceless 
as  their  successor  of  our  own  times.  The  gossipy  Chaplain 
informs  us,  in  this  connection,  that  General  Ginkel  "sent  out 
an  order  that  all  ale  from  Dublin  and  Wicklow  should  be 
sold  at  6  pence  [12  cents]  per  quart;  all  other  ale,  coming 

366  The  People's  History  of  Ireland 

above  forty  miles,  at  5  pence,  and  all  under  forty  miles  at 
4  pence ;  white  bread  to  be  sold  at  3  pence  per  pound ;  brown 
bread  at  2  pence;  claret  at  2  shillings  and  6  pence,  and 
Rhenish  at  3  shillings  [per  quart] ;  brandy  at  12  shillings 
[$2.88]  per  gallon,  etc. ;  and  that  no  person  should  presume 
to  exceed  these  rates  on  the  penalty  of  forfeiting  all  his 
goods,  and  suffering  a  month's  imprisonment.  But  they 
promptly  found  out  a  trick  for  this,"  continues  Mr.  Story 
in  disgust,  "and  called  all  drink  that  came  to  the  camp 
Dublin  or  Wicklow  ale!"  This  "touch  of  nature"  shows 
how  little  mankind  has  changed  in  principle  and  practice 
after  a  lapse  of  more  than  six  generations. 

De  Ginkel  appeared  in  front  of  Limerick  on  August  25, 
and  the  city  was  immediately  invested  on  the  south,  east, 
and  north.  The  Clare  side,  connected  by  Thomond  Bridge 
with  Englishtown,  or  King's  Island,  still  remained  unat- 
tacked,  as  no  English  force  had  passed  the  river.  The  Irish 
horse  and  dragoons  were  all  quartered  on  that  side,  while 
the  infantry  garrisoned  the  threatened  portions  of  the  city. 

Notwithstanding  the  imposing  array  of  Ginkel's  superb 
army  and  powerful  siege  equipment  as  they  approached 
the  walls  of  their  city,  neither  the  people  nor  the  garrison 
of  Limerick  seem  to  have  been  much  concerned  by  the 
spectacle.  The  walls  were  much  stronger  than  they  had 
been  in  the  previous  siege,  and  the  soldiers  were  seasoned 
to  hardship  and  peril.  D'Usson,  the  French  lieutenant- 
general,  was  in  chief  command,  with  his  fellow-countryman, 
general,  the  Chevalier  De  Tesse,  second,  and  Sarsfield,  it  ap- 
pears from  the  order  of  signature  in  the  subsequent  treaty, 
was  third  in  rank,  with  the  Scotch  general,  Wauchop, 
fourth.  The  Duke  of  Tyrconnel  had  died  of  apoplexy — 
Story  hints  at  poison  administered  in  wine — after  dining 

The  People's  History  of  Ireland  367 

heartily  with  the  French  generals  and  other  officers  on 
August  14.  The  misfortunes  of  his  country,  in  the  opin- 
ion of  many  writers,  had  more  to  do  with  hastening  the 
end  than  any  other  cause.  His  remains  lie  under  a  name- 
less flagstone  in  the  aisle  of  St.  Maudlin's  church  in  Lim- 
erick, but  we  are  informed  not  even  Irish  tradition,  usually 
so  minute,  can  point  out  the  exact  place  of  sepulture.  The 
powerful  English  batteries,  raking  the  town  on  three  sides, 
poured  in  torrents  of  bombs  and  red-hot  cannon  balls,  day 
and  night,  and  the  place  caught  fire  at  several  points.  Most 
of  the  women  and  children  had  to  be  removed  to  the  cav- 
alry camp  on  the  Clare  bank,  and  the  casualties  among  the 
defenders  were  numerous.  The  Irish  replied  spiritedly, 
but  they  were  very  deficient  in  weight  of  metal,  and,  also, 
because  of  the  comparative  shortness  of  supply,  had  to  be 
sparing  of  their  ammunition,  whereas  the  English  were 
always  sure  of  a  fresh  supply  both  from  the  interior  and 
their  men-of-war  on  the  adjacent  coasts.  The  Chaplain, 
under  date  of  September  8,  1691,  relates  how  the  "new 
batteries  were  all  ready — one  to  the  left  with  ten  field-pieces 
to  shoot  red-hot  ball;  another  to  the  right  of  25  guns,  all 
24  and  i8-pounders;  and  in  the  centre  were  placed  8  mor- 
tars, from  18^4  to  10^2  inches  in  diameter;  these  stood 
all  together  on  the  northeast  of  the  town,  nigh  the  island : 
then  there  were  8  guns  of  1 2-pound  ball  each,  planted  at 
Mackay's  fort,  and  some  also  toward  the  river  on  the 
southwest,  where  the  Danes  were  posted.  These  fell  to 
work  all  the  time  and  put  the  Irish  into  such  a  fright  [more 
partisan  venom]  that  a  great  many  of  them  wished  them- 
selves at  another  place,  having  never  heard  such  a  noise 
before,  nor  I  hope  never  shall  in  that  kingdom." 

Three  days  later  the  reverend  chronicler  tells  us  that 

368  The  People's   History  of  Ireland 

"the  breach  was  widened  at  least  forty  paces,  and,  floats 
being  prepared,  there  were  great  debates  amongst  the  chief 
officers  whether  it  should  be  attempted  by  storm.  .  .  . 
Though  indeed  we  could  not  do  the  enemy  a  greater  pleas- 
ure, nor  ourselves  a  greater  prejudice,  in  all  probability, 
than  in  seeking  to  carry  the  town  by  a  breach,  before  those 
within  [the  Irish,  to  wit]  were  more  humbled,  either  by 
sword  or  sickness."  No  finer  tribute  than  this,  coming 
from  such  a  source,  could  be  paid  to  Irish  constancy  and 
courage,  after  such  treasons  and  disasters  as  marked  the 
capture  of  Athlone  and  the  loss  of  Aughrim. 

Thoroughly  convinced  that  he  could  not  hope  to  carry 
Limerick  by  direct  assault,  De  Ginkel  now  resolved  to  test 
the  never-failing  weapon  of  treachery  and  surprise  on  this 
stubborn  foe.  He  had  information  that  there  was  a  strong 
peace-at-any-price  party  within  the  town,  and  that,  could 
he  but  land  a  strong  force  on  the  Clare  bank  of  the  Shan- 
non, the  city  would  speedily  capitulate.  He,  therefore,  de- 
termined to  construct,  in  all  secrecy,  a  pontoon  bridge  across 
the  river  above  St.  Thomas  Island,  near  a  place  called 
Annaghbeg,  where  Brigadier  Robert  Clifford  commanded 
a  strong  body  of  Irish  dragoons  and  infantry,  quite  suffi- 
cient, if  only  properly  directed,  to  foil  any  hostile  move- 
ment. On  the  night  of  the  I5th  of  September,  the  bridge 
was  laid — the  most  favorable  point  having  been  revealed 
by  some  fishermen,  who,  the  historian  O'Callaghan  relates, 
were  bribed  to  betray  their  country.  It  is  much  more  prob- 
able, however,  that  they  were  forced  to  turn  traitors  under 
threat  of  death.  However,  on  the  morning  of  the  i6th  the 
bridge  was  completed  and  a  formidable  English  force  of 
horse  and  foot,  under  Generals  Talmash  and  Scravenmore, 
succeeded  in  crossing.  Apparently  taken  by  surprise — al- 

The  People's  History  of  Ireland  369 

though  distinctly  charged  with  treason  by  numerous  Irish 
historians — General  Clifford,  at  this  important  juncture, 
displayed  neither  zeal,  courage,  nor  capacity.  He  brought 
his  men  up  in  a  state  of  unreadiness  and  in  detachments, 
instead  of  in  a  solid  formation,  and,  of  course,  was  easily 
put  to  rout.  To  show  the  criminal  carelessness,  to  say  no 
worse,  of  this  commander,  his  cavalry  horses  were  "out  at 
grass"  two  miles  from  his  camp,  when  the  English  attack 
was  made!  Such  "generalship"  would  have  demoralized 
an  army  of  Spartans,  and  the  Irish  rank  and  file  can  hardly 
be  blamed  if,  on  this  occasion,  they  did  not  manifest  their 
customary  intrepidity.  Europe  never  beheld  in  the  field  a 
braver  body  of  men  than  King  James's  Irish  army,  and 
the  world  never  furnished  a  more  incompetent  staff  of  gen- 
eral officers,  whether  French  or  Irish,  than  that  which  com- 
manded and,  finally,  wrecked  it.  We  wish  to  except  St. 
Ruth  and  Sarsfield  and  Boisseleau,  who  were  able  and  gal- 
lant soldiers,  thoroughly  devoted  to  the  cause  in  which 
they  had  embarked.  De  Ginkel's  bold  movement  resulted 
in  the  partial  turning  of  Thomond  Bridge — the  key  to  King's 
Island — and  the  capture  of  St.  Thomas  Island,  another  im- 
portant Irish  post  above  the  city.  He,  therefore,  felt  justi- 
fied in  issuing,  that  same  day,  a  proclamation  inviting  the 
garrison  of  Limerick  to  surrender  on  honorable  conditions, 
but  the  Irish,  although  now  under  a  veritable  rain  of  fire 
and  iron  from  every  point  of  the  compass,  paid  no  heed  to 
it,  whereat  the  phlegmatic,  but  skilful,  Dutch  strategist 
greatly  marveled. 

But,  although  the  river  had  been  successfully  passed,  Gin- 
kel  was  so  discouraged  by  the  firm  countenance  of  the  Irish 
garrison  that  he  called  a  Council  of  War  on  the  i  /th,  when 
it  was,  at  first,  decided  to  cross  the  whole  English  army 

370  The  People's  History  of  Ireland 

into  Clare,  destroy  the  Irish  resources  of  food  and  forage 
in  that  county,  and  then  convert  the  siege  into  a  blockade 
that  might  last  indefinitely.  Reflection,  however,  changed 
this  decision.  Winter  was  approaching,  and  the  wet  Irish 
winter  meant  wholesale  death  to  the  soft  and  pampered  En- 
glish and  their  foreign  allies.  Ginkel,  then,  resolved  to 
again  try  his  favorite  manoeuvre — a  turning  movement. 
Accordingly,  on  September  22,  at  the  head  of  the  greater 
portion  of  the  allied  army,  he  crossed  the  pontoon  bridge 
and,  commanding  in  person,  made  a  sudden  and  tremendous 
attack  on  the  small  fort  which  commanded  Thomond 
Bridge,  and  was  garrisoned  by  about  800  Irish  soldiers. 
The  English  cannon  soon  covered  this  fort  with  red-hot 
projectiles.  Everything  inflammable  in  the  soldiers'  quar- 
ters caught  fire,  and  the  desperate  garrison  made  a  sortie 
with  the  object  of  crossing  into  King's  Island  by  Thomond 
Bridge.  The  connection  was  by  means  of  a  draw.  A  lit- 
tle over  a  hundred  of  the  Irish  had  crossed  in  safety,  when 
the  French  major  in  command  at  the  drawbridge,  fearing, 
it  is  said,  that  the  English  might  enter  the  town  with  the 
fugitives,  caused  it  suddenly  to  be  raised.  The  men  behind 
were  not  able  to  see  what  had  happened,  and  the  foremost 
ranks  that  stood  on  the  western  abutment  were  forced  over 
the  gulf  and  nearly  all  perished  in  the  river.  The  others 
put  up  white  handkerchiefs  in  token  of  surrender,  but  the 
savage  victors  showed  no  mercy.  Story,  who  saw  the  whole 
sickening  butchery,  paints  the  scene  in  ghastly  fashion 
thus :  "Before  the  killing  was  over,  they  [the  Irish]  were 
laid  in  heaps  upon  the  bridge,  higher  than  the  ledges  of 
it."  Out  of  800  men,  only  the  five  score  and  odd  that 
gained  the  drawbridge  in  time,  and  the  few  strong  ones 
who  swam  the  river,  escaped.  It,  on  a  smaller  scale,  re- 

The  People's  History  of  Ireland  371 

sembled  the  disaster  at  Leipsic,  in  1813,  when  the  French 
Major  of  Engineers,  Montfort,  caused  the  bridge  over  the 
Elster  to  be  blown  up,  while  yet  the  corps  of  MacDonald 
and  Poniatowski,  which  formed  Napoleon's  rearguard,  were 
on  the  hostile  bank  of  the  river.  Thus,  through  the  stu- 
pidity, or  panic,  of  a  subordinate  officer,  the  emperor  lost 
the  Polish  marshal,  who  was  one  of  his  best  generals, 
and  20,000  of  his  choicest  troops.  A  fool  or  coward  com- 
manding at  a  bridge  over  which  an  army  is  compelled  to 
retreat,  is  more  deadly  to  his  friends  than  all  the  bulleti 
and  sabres  of  the  enemy. 


Capitulation  of  Limerick — Terms  of  the  Famous  "Violated  Treaty" 
— Cork  Harbor  Tragedy 

THE  Irish  cavalry,  which  would  seem  to  have  been 
inefficiently  commanded  by  General  Sheldon  during 
the  late  operations,  and  now  completely  outnumbered,  fell 
back  to  Six-Mile-Bridge  in  Clare,  dejected  and  almost  hope- 
less. The  men  had  lost  faith  in  their  commanders,  and 
that  meant  a  speedy  end  of  effective  resistance.  When  it 
became  known  in  Limerick  that  the  enemy  had  been 
successful  beyond  the  river,  the  peace  party  began  again 
to  clamor  loudly  for  a  capitulation.  A  party  eager  for  sur- 
render within  a  beleaguered  city  is  the  very  best  ally  a  be- 
sieging force  can  have.  In  this  case,  their  treason  or  pusil- 
lanimity proved  the  destruction  of  their  country.  De  Ginkel 
had  positive  information  that  a  great  French  fleet,  under 
a  renowned  admiral,  Count  Chateau-Renaucl,  was  fitting  out 
at  Brest  for  the  relief  of  Limerick.  Therefore  he  was  ready 
to  promise  almost  anything  in  order  to  gain  the  timely  sur- 

372  The  People's  History  of  Ireland 

render  of  the  place,  for  he  knew  that  if  the  French  once 
landed  in  force,  all  the  fruits  of  his  recent  victories  would  be 
irretrievably  spoiled.  The  buoyant  Irish  would  rally  again 
more  numerously  than  ever,  better  drilled,  equipped,  and 
thoroughly  inured  to  war.  His  good  opinion  of  their 
fighting  qualities  was  unequivocally  shown  in  his  eagerness 
to  enlist  them  as  soldiers  under  the  banner  of  King  William. 
He  felt  morally  certain  that  Sarsfield  and  the  other  chief 
Irish  officers  were  entirely  ignorant  of  the  preparations 
going  on  in  France.  They  imagined  themselves  absolutely 
deserted  by  that  power.  Irish  tradition  credits  General  Sars- 
field with  a  disposition  to  hold  out  to  the  last,  while  it  is 
believed,  on  the  same  rather  unreliable  authority,  that  the 
French  generals,  D'Usson  and  De  Tesse,  favored  an  hon- 
orable and  immediate  surrender.  It  is  certain  that  most 
of  the  Anglo-Irish  officers  were  tired  of  the  war  and  desired 
to  have  an  end  of  it  on  any  reasonable  terms.  Ginkel  was 
still  over  the  river  in  Clare,  when,  on  the  evening  of  Septem- 
ber 23,  the  Irish  drums,  from  several  points  in  the  town, 
beat  a  parley.  The  siege  had  lasted  almost  a  month,  and 
the  English  officers  were  delighted  at  the  near  prospect  of 
peace.  They  received  Sarsfield,  Wauchop,  and  their  escort, 
under  a  flag  of  truce,  with  military  courtesy,  and  directed 
them  where  to  find  the  general-in-chief.  The  Irish  officers 
crossed  the  Shannon  in  a  rowboat,  and  found  Ginkel  in  his 
camp  by  Thomond  Bridge.  He  received  them  favorably, 
and  a  temporary  cessation  of  hostilities  was  agreed  upon. 
Next  morning,  it  was  decided  to  extend  it  three  days.  Then 
it  was  determined  that  the  Irish  officers  and  commands  sep- 
arated from  the  Limerick  garrison  should  be  communicated 
with,  and  that  all,  if  terms  were  agreed  upon,  would  sur- 
render simultaneously.  Meanwhile  the  English  and  Irish 

The  People's  History  of  Ireland  373 

officers  exchanged  courtesies  and  frequently  dined  together, 
although  the  French  generals  held  aloof,  for  some  reason 
that  has  never  been  satisfactorily  explained. 

But  now  the  ultra  peace  party  having,  in  a  measure,  the 
upper  hand,  sought  to  commit  the  Irish  army  to  a  dishon- 
orable and  ungrateful  policy — the  abandonment  of  France, 
which,  with  all  its  faults,  was  Ireland's  sole  ally.  Hostages 
were  exchanged  by  the  two  armies,  those  for  England  being 
Lord  Cutts,  Sir  David  Collier,  Colonel  Tiffin,  and  Colonel 
Piper;  and  for  Ireland  Lords  Westmeath,  Iveagh  (whose 
entire  regiment  afterward  passed  over  to  William),  Trim- 
elstown,  and  Louth.  Following  the  arrival  of  the  latter  in 
the  English  camp  came  the  peace  party's  proposals,  which 
stipulated  for  the  freedom  of  Catholic  worship  and  the 
maintenance  of  civil  rights,  and  then  basely  proposed  that 
"the  Irish  army  be  kept  on  foot,  paid,  et  cetera,  the  same  as 
the  rest  of  their  majesties'  forces,  in  case  they  were  will- 
ing to  serve  their  majesties  against  France  or  any  other 

The  Irish  army,  nobly  chivalrous  and  patriotic,  with  the 
usual  base  exceptions  to  be  found  in  every  considerable 
body  of  men,  was  not  willing  "to  serve  their  majesties"  as 
intimated,  as  will  be  seen  further  along.  Ginkel,  who  was 
thoroughly  coached  by  the  "royal  commissioners"  from 
Dublin,  who  were  rarely  absent  from  his  camp,  rejected  the 
Palesmen's  propositions,  chiefly  because  of  the  Catholic 
claims  put  forward  in  them.  There  is  no  evidence  what- 
ever that  Sarsfi^ld  countenanced  the  policy  attempted  to  be 
carried  out  by  this  contemptible  faction. 

On  the  28th  all  the  parties  in  Limerick  town  came  to  an 
agreement  in  regard  to  what  they  would  propose  to  and  ac- 
cept from  De  Ginkel.  The  latter,  who  was  quite  a  diplomatic 

374  The  People's  History  of  Ireland 

as  well  as  military  "bluffer,"  began  openly  to  prepare  his  bat- 
teries for  a  renewal  of  the  bombardment — the  three  days' 
cessation  having  nearly  come  to  an  end.  But,  on  the  day 
stated,  there  came  to  him,  from  out  of  Limerick,  Generals 
Sarsfield  (Lord  Lucan),  Wauchop,  the  Catholic  Primate, 
Baron  Purcell,  the  Archbishop  of  Cashel,  Sir  Garret  Dillon, 
Sir  Theobald  ("Toby")  Butler,  and  Colonel  Brown,  "the 
three  last  counselors-at-law,  with  several  other  officers  and 
commissioners."  Baron  De  Ginkel  summoned  all  of  his 
chief  generals  to  meet  them,  and  "after  a  long  debate,  ar- 
ticles were  agreed  on,  not  only  for  the  town  of  Limerick,  but 
for  all  the  other  forts  and  castles  in  the  kingdom,  then  in 
the  enemies'  possession."  In  compliance  with  the  wish  of 
the  Irish  delegation,  De  Ginkel  agreed  to  summon  the 
Lords  Justices  from  Dublin  to  ratify  the  treaty.  These 
functionaries,  authoritatively  representing  King  William 
and  Queen  Mary,  soon  arrived  at  the  camp  and  signed  the 
instrument  in  due  form.  The  French  generals,  although 
they  did  not  accompany  the  Irish  commissioners  on  their 
visit  to  Ginkel,  signed  the  terms  of  capitulation  with  the 
rest,  the  names  appearing  in  the  following  order :  D'Usson, 
Le  Chevelier  de  Tesse,  Latour  Monfort,  Mark  Talbot,  Lu- 
can (Sarsfield),  Jo  Wauchop,  Galmoy,  M.  Purcell.  For 
England  there  signed  Lords  Justices  Charles  Porter  and 
Thomas  Conyngsby,  Baron  De  Ginkel,  and  Generals  Scra- 
venmore,  Mackay,  and  Talmash. 

The  Treaty  of  Limerick  was  thus  consummated  on  Oc- 
tober 3,  1691,  with  all  the  required  forms  and  ceremonies, 
so  that  no  loophole  of  informality  was  left  for  either  party 
to  this  international  compact.  In  the  treaty  there  were  29 
military  and  13  civil  articles.  As  they  were  quite  lengthy, 
we  will  confine  ourselves  to  a  general  summary,  thus: 

The  People's  History  of  Ireland  375 

All  the  adherents  of  King  James  in  Ireland  were  given 
permission  to  go  beyond  the  seas  to  any  country  they  might 
choose  to  live  in,  except  England  and  Scotland.  Volunteers 
and  rapparees  were  included  in  this  provision,  as  well  as  the 
officers  and  soldiers  of  the  Irish  regular  army.  These  vol- 
untary exiles  were  allowed  to  depart  from  Ireland  in  "whole 
bodies,  companies,  or  parties;  and  it  was  provided  that,  if 
plundered  by  the  way,  the  English  Government  would  grant 
compensation  for  such  losses  as  they  might  sustain.  It  was 
agreed  that  fifty  ships  of  200  tons  burden  each  should  be 
provided  for  their  transportation,  and  twenty  of  the  same 
tonnage  in  addition,  if  it  should  be  found  necessary,  and 
that  "said  ships  should  be  furnished  with  forage  for  horses 
and  all  necessary  provisions  to  subsist  the  officers,  troopers, 
dragoons,  and  [foot]  soldiers,  and  all  other  persons  [mean- 
ing families  and  followers]  that  are  shipped  to  be  transported 
into  France."  In  addition,  two  men-of-war  were  placed 
at  the  disposal  of  the  principal  officers  for  the  voyage,  and 
suitable  provision  was  made  for  the  safe  return  of  all  ves- 
sels when  their  mission  of  transportation  was  accomplished. 
The  thrifty  De  Ginkel  further  stipulated  that  the  provisions 
supplied  to  the  military  exiles  should  be  paid  for  by  their 
government  as  soon  as  the  Irish  troops  were  landed  on 
French  soil.  Article  XXV  provided :  "That  it  shall  be  law- 
ful for  the  said  garrison  [of  Limerick]  to  march  out  at  once, 
or  at  different  times,  as  they  can  be  embarked,  with  arms, 
baggage,  drums  beating,  match  lighted  at  both  ends,  bullet 
in  mouth,  colors  flying,  six  brass  guns,  such  as  the  besieged 
shall  choose,  two  mortar  pieces,  and  half  the  ammunition 
that  is  now  in  the  magazines  of  the  said  place."  This  pro- 
vision, which,  as  can  be  seen,  included  the  full  "honors  of 
war,"  was  also  extended  to  the  other  capitulated  Irish  garri- 

Ireland— 17  Vol.  I. 

The  People's  History  of  Ireland 

sons.  Another  significant  provision  was  that  all  Irish  offi- 
cers and  soldiers  who  so  desired  could  join  the  army  of 
King  William,  retaining  the  rank  and  pay  they  enjoyed  in 
the  service  of  King  James. 

Of  the  civil  articles,  the  first  read  as  follows:  "The  Ro- 
man Catholics  of  this  kingdom  shall  enjoy  such  privileges 
in  the  exercise  of  their  religion  as  are  consistent  with  the 
laws  of  Ireland,  or  as  they  did  enjoy  in  the  reign  of  King 
Charles  II;  and  their  Majesties,  as  soon  as  their  affairs 
will  permit  them  to  summon  a  Parliament  in  this  kingdom, 
will  endeavor  to  procure  the  said  Roman  Catholics  such 
further  security  in  that  particular  as  may  preserve  them  from 
disturbance  upon  the  account  of  their  said  religion." 

The  second  article  guaranteed  protection  in  the  possession 
of  their  estates  and  the  free  pursuit  of  their  several  profes- 
sions, trades,  and  callings  to  all  who  had  served  King  James, 
the  same  as  under  his  own  regime,  on  the  taking  of  the 

subjoined  oath  of  allegiance  prescribed  by  statute:  "I 

do  solemnly  promise  and  swear  that  I  will  be  faithful  and 
bear  true  allegiance  to  their  Majesties,  King  William  and 
Queen  Mary:  so  help  me  God."  A  subsequent  article  pro- 
vided that  "the  oath  to  be  administered  to  such  Roman 
Catholics  as  submit  to  their  Majesties'  government  shall  be 
the  oath  aforesaid  and  no  other" — thus  doing  away,  as  the 
Irish  honestly  supposed,  with  the  odious  penal  "Test  oaths," 
which  were  an  outrage  on  Catholic  belief  and  a  glaring  insult 
to  the  Catholics  of  the  whole  world. 

The  third  article  extended  the  benefit  of  the  first  and 
second  articles  to  Irish  merchants  "beyond  the  seas"  who 
had  not  borne  arms  since  the  proclamation  issued  by  Wil- 
liam and  Mary  in  the  preceding  February,  but  they  were 
required  to  return  to  Ireland  within  eight  months. 

The  People's  History  of  Ireland  377 

Article  IV  granted  like  immunity  to  Irish  officers  in 
foreign  lands,  absent  in  pursuance  of  their  military  duties, 
and  naming,  specially,  Colonel  Simon  Luttrell  (the  loyal 
brother  of  the  traitor,  Henry),  Colonel  Rowland  White, 
Colonel  Maurice  Eustace,  of  Gormanstown,  and  Major 
Cheviers  (Chevers)  of  Maystown,  "commonly  called  Mount 

Article  V  provided  that  all  persons  comprised  in  the  sec- 
ond and  third  articles  should  have  general  pardon  for  all 
"attainders,  outlawries,  treasons  (?),  misprisions  of  trea- 
sons, prsemunires,  felonies,  trespasses,  and  other  crimes 
and  misdemeanors  whatsoever,  committed  by  them,  or  any 
of  them  since  the  beginning  of  the  reign  of  James  II ;  and 
if  any  of  them  are  attainted  by  Parliament,  the  Lords  Jus- 
tices and  the  General  will  use  their  best  endeavors  to  get 
the  same  repealed  by  Parliament,  and  the  outlawries  to  be 
reversed  gratis,  all  but  writing-clerk's  fees." 

Article  VI  provided  general  immunity  to  both  parties  for 
debts  or  disturbances  arising  out  of  the  late  war.  This 
provision  applied  also  to  rates  and  rents. 

Article  VII  provided  that  "every  nobleman  and  gentle- 
man comprised  in  the  second  and  third  articles  shall  have 
liberty  to  ride  with  a  sword  and  case  of  pistols,  if  they 
[sic]  think  fit,  and  keep  a  gun  in  their  houses  for  the  de- 
fence of  the  same,  or  for  fowling." 

The  eighth  article  granted  leave  to  the  inhabitants,  or 
residents,  of  Limerick,  and  other  Irish  garrisons,  to  re- 
move their  goods  and  chattels,  if  so  disposed,  without  inter- 
ference, search,  or  the  payment  of  duties,  and  they  were 
privileged  to  remain  in  their  lodgings  for  six  weeks. 

The  tenth  article  declared  that  "no  person,  or  persons, 
who  shall  at  any  time  hereafter  break  these  articles,  or 

378  The  People's  History  of  Ireland 

any  of  them,  shall  thereby  make  or  cause  any  other  person 
or  persons  to  forfeit  or  lose  the  benefit  of  the  same/' 

Article  XII  read  thus :  "The  Lords  Justices  and  the  Gen- 
eral do  undertake  that  their  Majesties  will  ratify  these  ar- 
ticles within  the  space  of  three  months,  or  sooner,  and  use 
their  utmost  endeavors  that  the  same  shall  be  ratified  and 
confirmed  in  the  Parliament." 

The  thirteenth,  and  final,  article  made  provision  for  the 
protection  from  financial  loss  of  Colonel  John  Browne, 
commissary-general  of  the  Irish  army,  who,  during  the 
war,  had  seized  the  property  of  certain  Williamites  for  the 
public  use,  charging  the  debt,  pro  rata,  on  the  Catholic 
estates  secured  to  their  owners  under  the  treaty;  and  re- 
quiring General  (Lord  Lucan)  to  certify  the  account  with 
Colonel  Browne  within  21  days. 

It  will  be  remembered,  in  examining  the  religious  pro- 
visions of  the  Treaty  of  Limerick,  that  Catholic  worship 
in  the  reign  of  Charles  II  was  permitted  by  connivance 
rather  than  by  law.  Many  of  the  worst  of  the  penal  laws, 
although  in  abeyance,  might  be  revived  at  any  time  by  law 
officers  tyrannically  disposed  toward  the  Catholics.  The 
latter  were  once  again  to  discover  that  it  is  one  thing  to 
obtain  a  favorable  treaty  from  a  formidable  enemy,  while 
they  have  arms  in  their  hands  and  a  still  inviolate  fortress 
at  their  backs,  but  quite  a  different  matter  to  make  the  foe 
live  up  to  the  provisions  of  the  treaty  when  the  favorable 
conditions  for  the  capitulators  have  passed  away.  But  of 
this  hereafter. 

Not  many  days  subsequent  to  the  surrender  of  Limerick, 
Count  Chateau-Renaud,  with  a  powerful  French  fleet,  hav- 
ing on  board  arms,  cannon,  and  all  kinds  of  military  sup- 
plies, together  with  a  veteran  contingent  of  3,000  men  and 

The  People's  History  of  Ireland  379 

200  officers,  cast  anchor  in  Dingle  Bay,  on  the  southern 
coast,  without  once  coming  in  contact  with  the  naval  might 
of  England.  Were  the  Irish  a  dishonorable  people,  they 
could  have  then,  with  great  advantage,  repudiated  the 
treaty,  but  the  national  honor  was  irrevocably  plighted, 
and,  consequently,  there  was  an  end  of  the  struggle.  Many 
honest  Irish  writers  have  blamed  the  precipitancy  of  Sars- 
field  and  the  other  leaders  in  signing  the  articles  of  capitu- 
lation, and  not  without  good  cause.  Lord  Lucan  should 
have  court-martialed  and  shot  the  leaders  of  the  peace-at- 
any-price  traitors  when  they  first  showed  their  hands. 
Hugh  O'Neill,  Red  Hugh  O'Donnell,  or  Owen  Roe  O'Neill 
would  have  done  so  without  hesitation,  but,  then,  Sarsfield 
was  only  half  a  Celt,  and  had  an  unfortunate  tenderness 
for  his  fellows  of  the  Pale.  It  is  regrettable  that  none  of 
the  French  generals  has  left  a  clear  statement  of  the  events 
that  led  to  the  premature  surrender  of  the  town;  but  we 
know  that  King  Louis,  who  subsequently  honored  Sars- 
field, held  D'Usson  responsible,  for  Story  tells  us,  on  page 
280  of  his  "Continuation  of  the  History  of  the  Wars  in 
Ireland,"  that  "the  French  king  [Louis  XIV]  was  so  far 
from  thanking  him  for  it  [the  capitulation]  that,  after 
some  public  indignities,  he  sent  him  to  the  Bastile." 

Viewed  in  the  light  of  after  events,  the  Treaty  of  Lim- 
erick, from  the  Irish  standpoint,  looks  like  a  huge  game 
of  confidence,  and  is  an  ineradicable  blot  on  English  mili- 
tary and  diplomatic  honor.  The  civil  articles  were  ignored, 
or  trampled  under  foot,  almost  immediately.  The  military 
articles  were  better  observed,  except  that  provision  which 
related  to  transportation  to  France,  which  was  grossly  vio- 
lated and  led  to  the  drowning  in  Cork  Harbor  of  a  number 
of  the  wives  of  the  Irish  soldiery,  who,  unable  to  find  room 

380  The  People's  History  of  Ireland 

on  board,  owing  to  De  Ginkel's  alleged  faithlessness,  or 
the  perfidy  of  his  lieutenants,  clung  to  the  ropes,  when  the 
ships  set  sail,  and  were  dragged  beneath  the  waves  to  their 

Mitchel,  in  his  able  "History  of  Ireland,"  page  3,  writ- 
ing of  this  painful  incident,  defends  Sarsfield  against  an 
imputation  cast  upon  that  officer  by  Lord  Macaulay,  in  his 
brilliant  but  unreliable  "History  of  England,"  thus :  "As  to 
General  Sarsfield's  proclamation  to  the  men  'that  they  should 
be  permitted  to  carry  their  wives  and  families  to  France,* 
he  made  the  statement  on  the  faith  of  the  First  and  several 
succeeding  articles  of  the  treaty,  not  yet  being  aware  of  any 
design  to  violate  it.  But  this  is  not  all :  The  historian  who 
could  not  let  the  hero  go  into  his  sorrowful  exile  without 
seeking  to  plunge  his  venomous  sting  into  his  reputation, 
had  before  him  the  'Life  of  King  William/  by  Harris,  and 
also  Curry's  'Historical  Review  of  the  Civil  Wars,'  wherein 
he  must  have  seen  that  the  Lords  Justices  and  General 
Ginkel  are  charged  with  endeavoring  to  defeat  the  execu- 
tion of  the  First  Article.  For,  says  Harris,  'as  great  num- 
bers of  the  officers  and  soldiers  had  resolved  to  enter  into 
the  service  of  France,  and  to  carry  their  families  with  them, 
Ginkel  would  not  suffer  their  wives  and  children  to  be 
shipped  off  with  the  men,  not  doubting  that  by  detaining  the 
former  he  would  have  prevented  many  of  the  latter  from 
going  into  that  service.  This,  I  say,  was  confessedly  an 
infringement  of  the  articles.' 

"To  this  we  may  add,"  continues  Mitchel,  "that  no  Irish 
officer  or  soldier  in  France  attributed  the  cruel  parting  at 
Cork  to  any  fault  of  Sarsfield,  but  always  and  only  to  a 
breach  of  the  Treaty  of  Limerick.  And  if  he  had  deluded 
them  in  the  manner  represented  by  the  English  historian, 

The  People's  History  of  Ireland  381 

they  would  not  have  followed  him  as  enthusiastically  [as 
they  afterward  did]  on  the  fields  of  Steinkirk  and  Landen." 
Mr.  Mitchel  did  Lord  Macaulay  an  unintentional  injus- 
tice in  attributing  the  original  charge  against  Sarsfield  to 
him.  It  originated  with  Chaplain  Story,  and  can  be  found 
on  pages  291-293  of  his  Continuation,  in  these  words: 
"Those  [of  the  Irish]  who  were  now  embarking  had  not 
much  better  usage  on  this  side  of  the  water  [he  had  alluded 
to  the  alleged  ill-treatment  of  the  first  contingent  on  its  ar- 
rival in  France] ,  for  a  great  many  of  them,  having  wives  and 
children,  they  made  what  shift  they  could  to  desert,  rather 
than  leave  their  families  behind  to  starve,  which  my  Lord 
Lucan  and  Major-General  Wauchop  perceiving,  they  pub- 
lish a  declaration  that  as  many  of  the  Irish  as  had  a  mind 
to't  should  have  liberty  to  transport  their  families  along 
with  themselves.  And,  accordingly,  a  vast  rabble  of  all 
sorts  were  brought  to  the  water-side,  when  the  major-gen- 
eral [Wauchop],  pretending  to  ship  the  soldiers  in  order, 
according  to  their  lists,  they  first  carried  all  the  men  on 
board;  and  many  of  the  women,  at  the  second  return  of 
the  boats  for  the  officers,  catching  hold  to  be  carried  on 
board,  were  dragged  off,  and,  through  fearfulness,  losing 
their  hold,  were  drowned;  but  others  who  held  faster  had 
their  fingers  cut  off,  and  so  perished  in  sight  of  their  hus- 
bands or  relatives,  tho'  those  of  them  that  did  get  over  [to 
France],  would  make  but  a  sad  figure,  if  they  were  ad- 
mitted to  go  to  the  late  queen's  court  at  St.  Germain.  .  .  . 
Lord  Lucan  finding  he  had  ships  enough  for  all  the  Irish 
that  were  likely  to  go  with  him,  the  number  that  went  be- 
fore and  these  shipped  at  this  time,  being,  according  to  the 
best  computation,  12,000  of  all  sorts  [a  palpable  underesti- 
mate], he  signs  the  following  releasement: 

382  Th*  topic's  History  of  Ireland 

"  'Whereas,  by  the  Articles  of  Limerick,  Lieutenant-Gen- 
cral  Ginkel,  commander-in-chief  of  the  English  army,  did 
engage  himself  to  furnish  10,000  tons  of  shipping  for  the 
transporting  of  such  of  the  Irish  forces  to  France  as  were 
willing  to  go  thither ;  and  to  facilitate  their  passage  to  add 
4,000  tons  more  in  case  the  French  fleet  did  not  come  to 
this  kingdom  to  take  off  some  of  these  forces;  and  whereas 
the  French  fleet  has  been  upon  the  coast  and  carried  away 
some  of  the  said  forces,  and  the  lieutenant-general  has  pro- 
vided ships  for  as  many  of  the  rest  as  are  willing  to  go  as 
aforesaid,  I  do  hereby  declare  that  the  said  lieutenant-gen- 
eral is  released  from  any  obligation  he  lay  under  from  the 
said  articles,  to  provide  vessels  for  that  purpose,  and  do 
quit  and  renounce  all  farther  claim  and  pretension  on  this 
account,  etc.  Witness  my  hand  this  8th  day  of  December, 
1691.  "  'LUCAN. 

"  Witnesses: 


F.  H.  DE  LA  FOREST,  SUSAN  NEL.'  " 

From  the  same  authority  we  learn  that  "on  December  22, 
my  Lord  Lucan,  and  the  rest  of  the  Irish  great  officers, 
went  on  board  the  transport  ships  [bound  for  France],  leav- 
ing hostages  at  Cork  for  the  return  of  the  said  ships." 

It  is  impossible  to  reconcile  the  circumstantial  statement 
of  the  Williamite  historian,  Harris,  in  regard  to  Ginkel's 
faithlessness,  with  the  official  document,  signed  by  Sarsfield, 
as  Earl  of  Lucan,  which  practically  exonerates  the  Dutch 
general.  Would  Sarsfield  have  signed  such  a  release  if 
Ginkel  had  been  guilty  of  the  treachery  ascribed  to  him  by 
Harris?  Story's  book  was  published  a  year  before  Lord 
Lucan  fell  in  Flanders,  and  must  have  been  read  by  that 

The  People's  History  of  Ireland  383 

general  and  the  officers  who  served  with  him  at  Limerick. 
One  thing  about  the  question  is  certain — if  Sarsfield  ever  is- 
sued the  proclamation,  in  conjunction  with  General  Wau- 
chop,  ascribed  to  him  by  the  English  chaplain,  he  must  have 
been  grossly  deceived  by  somebody.  All  writers  of  his  own 
times,  and  of  after  times,  describe  Sarsfield  as  the  soul  of 
honor,  but  some  have  asserted  that  he  was  rather  easy-going 
in  business  affairs,  and  a  little  too  ready  to  sign  any  docu- 
ment placed  before  him. 

We  have  been  unable  to  find  any  contemporary  confirma- 
Jon  of  the  romantic  Irish  tradition  that  the  Treaty  of  Lim- 
erick was  signed  on  the  historic  bowlder,  now  preserved  by; 
pedestal  and  railing  near  Thomond  Bridge,  on  the  Clare 
bank  of  the  Shannon.  But  tradition  is  often  more  accurate 
than  written  history.  Therefore,  the  Irish  people  having 
accepted  the  story  through  more  than  six  generations,  we 
accept  with  them  the  legend  of  "the  Treaty  Stone." 


The  Irish  Troops,  as  a  Majority,  Enter  the  French  Service — King 

James  Receives  Them  Cordially — His  Testimony  of  Their 

Devotion  and  Courage 

IMMEDIATELY  after  the  signing  of  the  treaty,  it  was 
1  fixed  upon  between  De  Ginkel  and  Sarsfield  that,  on  Oc- 
tober 6,  the  Irish  infantry  would  march  out  of  the  King's 
Island  by  Thomond  Bridge,  into  the  County  Clare,  and  there 
and  then  make  a  choice  of  service  with  England  or  France. 
It  was  arranged  that  those  who  chose  the  former  service 
were  to  turn  to  the  left  at  a  certain  point,  where  an  English 
flag  was  planted,  while  those  who  decided  for  France  were 
to  march  straight  onward  to  a  more  distant  point  marked 
by  the  French  standard.  They  were,  in  all,  about  15,000 

384  The  People's  History  of  Ireland 

men,  and,  quite  naturally,  the  respective  leaders  awaited  the 
result  with  burning  anxiety.  They  were  not  left  long 
in  doubt  The  first  body  to  march  was  the  Royal  Irish 
regiment  of  Foot  Guards,  fourteen  hundred  strong,  of  which 
Mr.  Story  remarks  wofully,  it  "seemed  to  go  all  entire 
[for  France]  except  seven  men,  which  the  general  was 
much  concerned  at,  then  my  Lord  Iveagh's  regiment  of 
Ulster  Irish  came  off  entire  to  our  side."  In  all  a  little  over 
1,000  officers  and  men  ranged  themselves  under  the  flag  of 
King  William,  while  nearly  13,000  mustered  under  the 
Fleur-de-Lis.  A  few  days  afterward,  the  Irish  horse,  now 
much  reduced,  made  choice  in  the  same  fashion,  and  with 
about  the  same  proportionate  result.  The  same  privilege 
was  granted  the  outlying  bodies  of  King  James's  army,  and 
all  decided  for  France  in  the  proportion  of  about  ten  to  one. 
Of  the  Irish  general  officers,  more  or  less  under  the  sus- 
picion of  the  army  since  the  disasters  of  Aughrim  and 
Annaghbeg,  we  find  Generals  Luttrell  and  Clifford,  Baron 
Purcell,  "and  a  great  many  more  of  the  Irish  nobility  and 
gentry  going  toward  Dublin,"  which  means  that  they  made 
terms  with  the  enemy. 

It  was  well  along  in  the  month  of  December  before  the 
Irish  soldiers  who  had  volunteered  to  go  beyond  the  seas 
were  entirely  transported  to  France.  The  foot,  for  the  most 
part,  sailed  from  Limerick,  many  of  them  in  the  returning 
fleet  of  Chateau-Renaud,  and  the  cavalry  from  Cork,  where 
occurred  the  tragical  event  we  have  already  related.  In  all 
— including  the  capitulated  troops  from  every  Irish  garri- 
son— 20,000  men  from  Ireland  landed  in  the  French  ports, 
and  these,  together  with  Mountcashel's  Brigade,  which  had 
been  in  the  French  service  since  before  the  battle  of  the 
Boyne,  made  up  a  force  of  25,000  veterans,  who  were 

The  People's  History  of  Ireland  385 

mostly  in  the  pay  of  King  Louis,  but  all  of  whom  were 
sworn  to  support  King  James  in  any  effort  he  might  put 
forth  to  recover  his  crown. 

As  much  injustice  has  been  done  the  memory  of  King 
James  II  by  Irish  writers,  who  have  taken  too  much  for 
granted  on  traditional  "hearsay,"  we  deem  it  only  fair  to 
place  before  the  readers  of  this  history  the  sentiments  of 
the  unfortunate  monarch  toward  his  Irish  defenders.  We 
quote  from  his  Memoirs,  Vol.  II,  pp.  465-467:  "Thus  was 
Ireland  [he  alluded  to  the  fall  of  Limerick],  after  an  obsti- 
nate resistance  in  three  years'  campaigns,  by  the  power  and 
riches  of  England,  and  the  revolt  of  almost  all  its  [Ireland's] 
own  Protestant  subjects  torn  from  its  natural  sovereign, 
who,  tho'  he  was  divested  of  the  country,  was  not  wholly 
deprived  of  the  people,  for  the  greatest  part  of  those  who 
were  then  in  arms  for  the  defence  of  his  right,  not  content 
with  the  service  already  rendered,  got  leave  [as  was  said] 
to  come  and  lose  their  lives,  after  having  lost  their  estates, 
in  defence  of  his  title,  and  brought  by  that  means  such  a  body 
of  men  into  France  as  by  their  generous  comportment  in  ac- 
cepting the  pay  of  the  country  [much  less  than  British  or 
Irish  pay]  instead  of  that  which  is  usually  allowed  there 
[in  France]  to  strangers  and  their  inimitable  valor  and  ser- 
vice during  the  whole  course  of  the  war,  might  justly  make 
their  prince  pass  for  an  ally,  rather  than  a  pensioner,  or 
burden,  to  his  Most  Christian  Majesty,  whose  pay,  indeed, 
they  received,  but  acted  by  the  king's,  their  master's,  com- 
mission, according  to  the  common  method  of  other  auxiliary 
troops.  As  soon  as  the  king  [James]  heard  of  their  arrival 
[in  France]  he  writ  to  the  commander  [General  Sheldon, 
who  went  with  the  first  contingent]  to  assure  him  how 
well  he  was  satisfied  with  the  behavior  and  conduct  of  the 

386  The  People's  History  of  Ireland 

officers,  and  the  valor  and  fidelity  of  the  soldiers,  and  how 
sensible  he  should  ever  be  of  their  service,  which  he  would 
not  fail  to  reward  When  it  should  please  God  to  put  him 
in  a  capacity  of  doing  it." 

Following  is  the  full  text  of  the  letter  addressed  to  the 
Irish  troops  through  their  general  by  King  James,  as  given 
in  Story's  Continuation,  page  289 : 


"Having  been  informed  of  the  capitulation  and  surren- 
der of  Limerick,  and  the  other  places  which  remained  to 
us  in  our  Kingdom  of  Ireland,  and  of  the  necessities  which 
forced  the  Lords  Justices  and  general  officers  of  our  forces 
thereunto:  we  will  not  defer  to  let  you  know,  and  the  rest 
of  the  officers  that  came  along  with  you,  that  we  are  ex- 
tremely satisfied  with  your  and  their  conduct,  and  of  the 
valor  of  the  soldiers  during  the  siege,  but  most  particularly 
of  your  and  their  declaration  and  resolution  to  come  and 
serve  where  we  are.  And  we  assure  you,  and  order  you 
to  assure  both  officers  and  soldiers  that  are  come  along  with 
you,  that  we  shall  never  forget  this  act  of  loyalty,  nor  fail, 
when  in  a  capacity  to  give  them,  above  others,  particular 
marks  of  our  favor.  In  the  meantime,  you  are  to  inform 
them  that  they  are  to  serve  under  our  command,  and  by 
our  commissions;  and  if  we  find  that  a  considerable  num- 
ber [of  them]  is  come  with  the  fleet,  it  will  induce  us  to 
go  personally  to  see  them,  and  regiment  them :  Our  brother, 
the  King  of  France,  hath  already  given  orders  to  clothe 
them  and  furnish  them  with  all  necessaries,  and  to  give 
them  quarters  of  refreshment.  So  we  bid  you  heartily 

"Given  at  our  Court  at  St.  Germain  the  27th  of  Novem- 
ber [Dec.  7],  1691." 

The  People's  History  of  Ireland  387 

In  pursuance  of  his  promise,  King-  James  made  two 
fatiguing  trips  from  St.  Germain  to  Bretagne  and  return, 
regimented  the  gallant  exiles  at  Vannes,  Brest,  and  other 
points,  and  in  every  possible  way  showed  his  marked  ap- 
preciation of  their  devotion.  He  was  accompanied  by  his 
son,  the  Duke  of  Berwick. 

In  accepting  French  pay,  the  Irish  soldiery  exposed  them- 
selves almost  to  penury,  and  their  officers  submitted  to  be 
reduced  in  rank,  almost  without  a  murmur.  Major-gen- 
erals became  colonels;  colonels,  captains;  captains,  lieuten- 
ants, and  many  of  the  latter  sergeants.  This  was  abso- 
lutely necessary,  as  there  was  room  for  only  a  certain  num- 
ber in  the  French  establishment.  Many  reduced  officers 
served  also  as  volunteers,  without  pay  of  any  kind,  wait- 
ing patiently  for  death  or  promotion.  The  total  amount  of 
property  sacrificed  by  these  brave  men  in  the  Jacobite  cause 
was  1,060,792  acres,  and  this  new  confiscation  placed  fully 
seven-eighths  of  the  soil  of  Ireland  in  the  hands  of  the  sup- 
porters of  the  English  interest. 

William  and  Mary  formally  ratified  the  Articles  of  the 
Treaty  of  Limerick  within  the  specified  three  months,  but 
the  English  Parliament,  influenced  by  motives  of  greed  and 
bigotry,  shamefully  refused  to  acquiesce,  and  as  William 
and  Mary  did  not  endanger  their  crown  by  offering  a 
vigorous  opposition,  the  civil  articles  of  Limerick  were,  from 
that  moment,  a  dead  letter.  Then  redescended  on  Ireland 
"the  long,  black  night  of  the  penal  laws,"  and  we  gladly 
turn  from  it,  for  a  period,  to  follow  the  brilliant  but  bloody 
fortunes  of  the  Irish  Brigade  in  the  service  of  France. 

388  The  People's  History  of  Ireland 


Early  Exploits  of  the  Irish  Brigade  in  the  Service  of  France — At 

Landen,  Cremona,  and  Blenheim — Tribute  Paid  it  by  an 

English  Historian 

IN  the  preceding  chapter  we  indicated  that  we  would  deal 
with  the  history  of  the  Irish  brigades  in  the  French 
service,  from  1692  to  1792,  before  touching  on  the  ter- 
rible penal  period  in  Ireland.  Their  services  have  won  a 
fame  so  world-wide  that  no  history  of  Europe  is  complete 
that  omits  them  from  its  pages.  They  were  prominently 
engaged  in  the  reign  of  Louis  XIV  in  the  War  of  the 
League  of  Augsburg,  which  was  hotly  waged  by  nearly 
all  Europe  against  him,  from  1688  to  the  Peace  of  Rys- 
wick,  in  1697 ;  in  the  War  of  the  Spanish  Succession — waged 
by  Louis  to  support  his  grandson,  Philip  of  Anjou,  on  the 
Spanish  throne — commenced  in  1700  and  concluded  by  the 
Peace  of  Utrecht  and  Treaty  of  Rastadt  in  1713-14,  and 
under  Louis  XV  in  numerous  minor  wars  with  Germany, 
and  especially  in  the  War  of  the  Austrian  Succession — 
France  supporting  the  claim  of  Charles  VII,  of  Bavaria, 
against  Maria  Theresa,  Queen  of  Hungary,  daughter  of 
the  last  Hapsburg  Emperor  of  Germany,  Charles  VI. 
This  war  was  begun  in  1740.  France  took  sides  in  1743, 
and  it  was  concluded  by  the  Treaty  of  Aix-la-Chapelle,  in 
1748.  In  each  of  these  contests  France  and  England  were 
on  opposite  sides — a  circumstance  favorable  to  the  bloody 
development  of  Irish  hatred.  After  the  last  of  the  wars 
specified,  the  Irish  Brigade,  having  no  warlike  food  on 
which  to  flourish,  covered  with  laurels  and  "worn  out  with 
glory,"  faded  from  the  fields  of  Europe. 

The  People's  History  of  Ireland  389 

In  another  place  we  have  alluded  to  the  campaign  of 
Savoy,  1690-91,  in  which  the  ill-starred  St.  Ruth  was  chief 
in  command.  Mountcashel's,  known  as  the  "Old  Brigade," 
scaled  every  Alpine  fortress,  drove  the  vengeful  "Vaudois" 
from  their  rugged  hills,  and  laid  the  country  under  fire  and 
sword,  leaving  a  reputation  for  military  prowess  fresh,  at 
this  day,  amid  the  mountains  of  Savoy. 

In  Flanders,  in  1692,  under  Sarsfield  and  Lord  Clare, 
the  "New"  Brigade  won  great  honor  at  Steinkirk,  where 
Luxemburg  routed  King  William.  At  Landen,  or  Neer- 
winden,  in  July,  1693,  William  held  his  ground  desperately 
against  the  bravest  efforts  of  the  French.  Luxemburg 
was  in  despair,  when  the  fierce  war-cry,  "Remember  Lim- 
erick!" rent  the  clouds,  and  the  Royal  Irish  Foot  Guards, 
led  by  Colonel  John  Barrett,  shattered  the  English  centre, 
broke  into  Neerwinden,  opened  a  path  to  victory  for  the 
French  Household,  and  William  was  hurled  into  the  river 
Gette,  while  the  Irish  shout  of  victory  shook  the  plain  like 
a  clap  of  thunder.  Sarsfield,  like  the  brave  Barrett,  re- 
ceived his  death  wound,  but  his  dying  gaze  beheld  the 
sight  he  most  loved  to  see — the  English  flag  in  sullen 

This  same  year,  in  Italy,  under  Catinat,  the  "Old"  Bri- 
gade made  its  mark  at  Marsaglia,  where  it  defeated 
the  Savoyard  centre,  drew  the  whole  French  army  after 
it,  and  chased  Victor  Amadeus  almost  to  the  gates  of 

Thenceforth,  Lord  Mountcashel  having  died  of  his 
wounds,  the  two  brigades  were  united  as  one.  The 
younger  Schomberg,  son  of  the  hero  of  the  Boyne,  fell 
before  the  Irish  bayonets  at  Marsaglia.  At  the  battle  of 
Montgry,  in  Spain,  fought  in  1694,  by  the  French  against 

390  The  People's  History  of  Ireland 

the  Spanish,  the  "Brigade,"  under  Marshal  de  Noailles, 
renewed  its  laurels,  and  the  Irish  charge  proved  potent  in 
bringing  the  Spaniards  to  terms. 

This  war  terminated  gloriously  for  France  by  the  Peace 
of  Ryswick. 

The  War  of  the  Spanish  Succession  broke  out  in  1700. 
England  and  Austria  supported  the  Archduke  Charles 
against  Philip  of  Anjou,  the  Bourbon  heir.  This  struggle 
brought  upon  the  stage  the  Duke  of  Marlborough,  for  Eng- 
land, and  Prince  Eugene,  of  Savoy,  for  Austria,  two  of 
the  greatest  generals  of  modern  times.  Marshals,  the  Duke 
of  Berwick,  Catinat,  Villeroy,  Vendome,  Villairs,  Boufflers, 
and  Noailles,  commanded  the  armies  of  France.  In  this 
frightful  struggle,  the  Irish  flag  always  blazed  in  the  van- 
guard of  victory,  in  the  rearguard  of  defeat,  and  the  Irish 
name  became  the  synonym  of  valor. 

In  the  winter  of  1702,  the  citadel  of  Cremona,  in  northern 
Italy,  was  held  for  France  by  Marshal  Villeroy,  with  a 
strong  garrison.  The  French  gave  themselves  up  to  revelry, 
and  the  walls  were  poorly  guarded.  Caissioli,  an  Italian, 
informed  Prince  Eugene,  the  Austrian  commander,  of  the 
state  of  affairs.  The  traitor  agreed  to  let  in  a  portion  of 
the  enemy  by  means  of  a  sewer  running  from  outside  the 
walls  under  his  house.  At  the  same  time  the  French  sen- 
tinels at  the  gate  of  St.  Margaret,  badly  defended,  were  to 
be  drawn  off,  so  that  Eugene  himself,  with  a  strong  body 
of  cuirassiers,  might  enter  and  join  the  other  party.  Count 
Merci  was  to  attack  the  "Gate  of  the  Po,"  defended  by  an 
Irish  company,  and  Prince  Vaudemont  and  Count  Freiberg 
were  to  support  the  attack  with  the  cavalry  of  their  respec- 
tive commands.  The  attack  was  made  at  midnight,  and  the 
plans  were  admirably  executed.  The  Austrians  were  in 

The  People's  History  of  Ireland  391 

possession  of  the  town  before  the  garrison  was  alarmed. 
Count  Merci,  however,  met  bad  fortune  at  the  "Gate  of 
the  Po."  The  Irish  guard,  chatting  over  old  times  by  the 
Shannon,  the  Barrow,  or  the  Suir,  kept  faithful  watch.  The 
clatter  of  hoofs  aroused  them,  as  Merci,  attended  by  several 
regiments  of  dragoons,  rode  up  to  the  gate  and  called  upon 
them  to  surrender.  The  Irish  replied  with  a  sharp  volley, 
which  laid  some  of  the  Austrians  out  in  the  roadway.  The 
fire  aroused  the  sleeping  Irish  regiments  of  Dillon  and 
Burke,  who,  in  their  shirts  only,  as  they  sprang  from 
bivouac,  grasped  their  muskets  and  hastened  to  the  rescue. 
They  were  met  in  the  square  by  Eugene's  cuirassiers,  who 
charged  them  fiercely.  Major  O'Mahoney  formed  his  Irish 
into  a  square  and  let  the  Austrians  have  a  fusillade.  The 
cuirassiers,  urged  by  Eugene  and  Freiberg,  dashed  madly 
at  the  Irish  battalions,  but,  despite  the  bravest  efforts  of  this 
iron  cavalry,  the  Irish  actually  routed  them  and  slew  their 
leader,  Baron  Freiberg.  Marshal  Villeroy  was  made  pris- 
oner by  Macdonald,  an  Irishman  in  the  Austrian  service, 
and  the  French  general  second  in  command  shared  the  same 
fate.  But  the  Irish  still  held  out,  fighting  desperately  and 
losing  half  their  men.  This  prolonged  resistance  alarmed 
the  French,  who  now,  thoroughly  aroused,  gallantly  sec- 
onded their  Irish  comrades,  and,  after  a  terrible  carnage  of 
eight  hours'  duration,  Prince  Eugene,  with  all  that  remained 
of  the  flower  of  the  Austrian  cavalry,  gave  up  in  despair,  and 
was  hurled  pell-mell  through  the  gates  of  St.  Margaret,  by 
the  victorious  garrison.  This  exploit  of  the  Irish  saved 
northern  Italy  to  the  French  monarch — the  Austrians  re- 
treated to  the  Alps.  All  Europe  rang  applause.  Louis 
raised  the  pay  of  his  Irish  troops,  and  made  O'Mahoney 
a  general.  He  also  decreed  that  Irishmen,  who  deserved 

392  The  People's  History  of  Ireland 

the  honor,  should  thenceforth  be  recognized  as  French  citi- 
zens, without  undergoing  the  form  of  naturalization. 

At  the  first  battle  of  Blenheim,  Bavaria,  in  1703,  the 
Irish,  under  Marshal  Tallard,  contributed  to  that  victory. 
The  regiment  of  Clare,  encountering  the  Austrian  guards, 
was,  for  a  moment,  overpowered,  but,  immediately  rallying, 
it  counter-charged  with  such  fury  that  it  not  alone  recovered 
its  own  flag,  but  gained  two  colors  from  the  enemy ! 

The  second  Blenheim,  so  disastrous  to  France,  was  fought 
in  1704.  Marlborough  commanded  the  English  right,  fac- 
ing Marshal  Tallard,  and  Eugene  commanded  the  allied  left, 
facing  Marshal  de  Marcin,  with  whom  was  the  Irish  Brigade. 
Tallard  was  dreadfully  beaten,  and  Marcin  fared  little  bet- 
ter. The  French  suffered  great  slaughter,  and  were  badly 
worsted.  The  Brigade,  however,  would  not  lose  heart. 
Closing  up  its  ranks,  it  made  a  superb  charge  on  Prince 
Eugene's  lines,  broke  through  them — being  one  of  the  few 
corps  in  the  French  army  that  saved  their  colors  that  day — 
and  covered  the  retreat  of  France  to  the  Rhine ! 

The  English  professor,  E.  S.  Creasy  of  Cambridge  Uni-. 
versity,  writing  of  the  conduct  of  the  Irish  in  this  great  baN 
tie,  says,  on  page  318  of  his  "Fifteen  Decisive  Battles  of  the 
World" :  "The  [French]  centre  was  composed  of  fourteen 
battalions  of  infantry,  including  the  celebrated  Irish  Bri- 
gade. These  were  posted  in  the  little  hamlet  of  Oberglau, 
which  lies  somewhat  nearer  to  Lutzingen  than  to  Blenheim." 
And,  on  page  320  of  the  same  work,  the  professor  continues: 
"The  Prince  of  Holstein  Beck  had,  with  eleven  Hanoverian 
battalions,  passed  the  Nebel  opposite  to  Oberglau  when  he 
was  charged  and  utterly  routed  by  the  Irish  Brigade,  which 
held  that  village.  The  Irish  drove  the  Hanoverians  back 
with  heavy  slaughter,  broke  completely  through  the  line  of 

The   People's   History  of  Ireland  393 

the  allies,  and  nearly  achieved  a  success  as  brilliant  as  that 
which  the  same  Brigade  afterward  gained  at  Fontenoy.  But 
at  Blenheim  their  ardor  in  pursuit  led  them  too  far.  Marl- 
borough  came  up  in  person  and  dashed  in  on  the  exposed 
flank  of  the  Brigade  with  some  squadrons  of  British  cavalry. 
The  Irish  reeled  back,  and,  as  they  strove  to  regain  the 
heights  of  Oberglau,  their  column  was  raked  through  and 
through  by  the  fire  of  three  battalions  of  the  allies,  which 
Marlborough  had  summoned  up  from  the  reserve."  Com- 
petent military  critics  have  observed  that  had  the  French 
cavalry  seconded  the  charge  of  the  Irish  infantry,  Blenheim 
would  have  been  a  French  victory. 


The  Irish  Brigade  in  the  Campaigns  of  North  Italy  and  Flanders — 

Its  Strength  at  Various  Periods — Count  Dillon's  Reply  to 

King  Louis  XV 

IN  the  summer  of  1705,  the  Irish  again,  at  the  battle  of 
Cassano,  where  they  fought  under  Marshal  Vendome, 
paid  their  respects  to  Prince  Eugene.  They  fought  with  a 
bravery  that  electrified  the  French  and  paralyzed  the  Aus- 
trians.  Vendome's  flank  was  badly  annoyed  by  a  hostile  bat- 
tery on  the  farther  bank  of  the  river  Adda.  The  stream  was 
broad  and  deep,  but  two  Irish  regiments,  under  cover  of 
the  smoke,  swam  across  it,  and,  under  the  very  nose  of  the 
great  Eugene,  captured  the  Austrian  cannon  and  turned 
their  fire  upon  the  enemy!  This  intrepid  action  decided 
the  day,  and  France  was  once  more  triumphant,  by  her 
Irish  arm. 

Conspicuous  in  this  brilliant  action,  as  also  at  Cremona, 
was  the  famous   "Regiment  of  Burke" — the  last  to  yield 

394  The  People's  History  of  Ireland 

at  Aughrim.     Of  it  the  Scotch-Canadian  poet  and  novelist, 
William  McLennan,  has  written: 

"Would  you  read  your  name  on  honor's  roll? 

Look  not  for  royal  grant — 
It  is  written  in  Cassano, 

Alcoy  and  Alicant ! 
Saragossa,  Barcelona, 

Wherever  dangers  lurk, 
You  will  find  in  the  van  the  blue  and  the  buff 

Of  the  Regiment  of  Burke! 
All  Spain  and  France  and  Italy 

Have  echoed  to  our  name — 
The  burning  suns  of  Africa 

Have  set  our  arms  aflame! 

But  to-night  we  toast  the  morn  that  broke  and 
wakened  us  to  fame — 

The  day  we  beat  Prince  Eugene  in  Cremona!" 

Marshal  Villeroy,  in  May,  1706,  allowed  himself  to  be 
cooped  up  by  the  Duke  of  Marlborough  in  the  village  of 
Ramillies,  in  Flanders.  The  French  were  utterly  over- 
whelmed, and  many  thousands  of  prisoners  were  taken. 
Lord  Clare  formed  the  Brigade  into  a  column  of  attack  and 
broke  through  the  victorious  enemy.  The  regiment  of 
Clare,  in  this  charge,  met  the  English  regiment  of  Churchill 
— now  the  Third  Burr's — full  tilt,  crushed  it  hopelessly,  cap- 
tured its  battle-flags,  and  served  a  Scotch  regiment,  in  the 
Dutch  service,  which  endeavored  to  support  the  British,  in 
the  same  manner.  The  Brigade  then  effected  its  retreat  on 
Ypres,  where/  in  the  convent  of  the  Benedictine  nuns,  it 
hung  up  the  captured  colors  —  "sole  trophies  of  Ramil- 
lies' fray" — where  they  have  waved,  for  many  a  generation, 
a  fitting  memento  of  the  faith  and  fame  of  the  Irish  exiles. 

In  April,  1707,  the  Brigade  next  distinguished  itself,  at  the 
battle  of  Almanza,  in  Spain,  where  it  fought  in  the  army  of 

The  People's  History  of  Ireland  395 

Marshal  the  Duke  of  Berwick.  The  English  and  Austrians 
were  commanded  by  Ruvigny — the  Williamite  Earl  of  Gal- 
way — who  signalized  himself  at  Aughrim.  The  Brigade 
paid  him  back  that  day.  It  charged  with  a  fury  never  ex- 
celled in  any  fight.  The  allies  were  ovethrown,  Ruvigny 
disgraced,  and  the  crown  of  Spain  was  placed  on  the  brow 
of  Philip  V. 

In  defeat,  as  in  victory,  the  bayonets  of  the  Brigade 
still  opened  up  the  road  to  honor.  When  the  French  re- 
treated from  Oudenarde,  in  July,  1708,  Marlborough  felt  the 
Irish  steel,  as  the  gallant  fellows  hung  doggedly  behind  the 
retiring  French,  kept  the  fierce  pursuers  at  bay,  and  enabled 
Vendome  to  reorganize  his  beaten  army.  The  battle  of 
Malplaquet,  fought  September,  1709,  was  the  bloodiest  of 
this  most  sanguinary  war.  The  French  fought  with  unusual 
desperation,  and  the  English  ranks,  led  by  Marlborough  and 
seconded  by  Eugene,  were  decimated.  It  was  an  unmiti- 
gated slaughter.  At  length  Marshal  Villairs,  who  com- 
manded the  French,  was  wounded  and  Marshal  Bourflers 
ordered  a  retreat.  Again  the  Irish  Birgade,  which  fought 
with  its  usual  courage  all  through  that  dreadful  day,  had 
the  honor  of  forming  the  French  rearguard,  and,  although 
many  flags,  capturecTTtrom  France,  were  laid  at  the  feet  of 
the  victor,  no  Irish  color  graced  the  trophies  of  Marlbor- 
ough, who,  with  the  ill-judged  battle  of  Malplaquet,  virtu- 
ally ended  his  grand  career  as  a  soldier.  After  that  fight 
the  war  was  feebly  waged — France  being  completely  ex- 
hausted— until  the  Peace  of  Utrecht  and  Treaty  of  Rastadt, 
1713-14,  closed  the  bloody  record. 

It  would  be  almost  impossible  to  enumerate  the  sieges 
and  minor  actions  in  which  the  Irish  Brigade  of  France  par- 
ticipated within  the  limits  of  this  history.  The  facts  we 

396  The  People's  History  of  Ireland 

have  given,  and  are  to  give,  rest  on  the  authority  of  the 
French  war  records,  and  the  testimony  of  English  and  other 
writers,  carefully  compiled  by  Matthew  O'Conor,  in  his 
"Military  History  of  the  Irish  People,"  and  by  John  C. 
O'Callaghan  in  his  invaluable  "History  of  the  Irish  Brig- 
ades"— works  which  should  ensure  for  their  able  and  care- 
ful authors  a  literary  immortality,  and  which  people  of  the 
Irish  race  should  treasure  among  their  most  precious  heir- 
looms. It  would  be  equally  difficult  to  follow  the  career  of 
those  Irish  soldiers  who,  at  the  peace,  transferred  their 
swords  from  France  to  Spain,  because  Louis  XV,  who  suc- 
ceeded his  grandfather  while  yet  a  child,  could  not  employ 
them  all.  In  Spain,  as  in  France,  their  swords  were  sharp- 
est where  the  English  were  their  foes,  always,  it  must  be 
admitted,  worthy  of  their  steel. 

The  subjoined  statement  of  the  strength  of  the  Irish  forces 
in  the  French  service  during  the  seventeenth  and  eighteenth 
centuries  is  taken  from  the  authorities  already  quoted : 

From  1690  to  1692,  three  regiments  of  foot ;  1692  to  1698, 
thirteen  regiments  of  infantry,  three  independent  companies, 
two  companies  of  cavalry,  and  two  troops  of  horse  guards ; 
1698  to  1714,  eight  regiments  of  infantry  and  one  regiment 
of  horse;  1714  to  1744,  five  regiments  of  infantry  and  one 
of  cavalry;  1744  to  1762,  six  regiments  of  infantry  and 
one  of  horse;  1762  to  1775,  five  regiments  of  infantry;  1775 
to  1791 — the  period  of  the  dissolution  of  the  Brigade — 
three  regiments  of  foot. 

From  the  fall  of  Limerick,  in  1691,  to  the  French  Revo- 
lution, according  to  the  most  reliable  estimate,  there  fell  in 
the  field  for  France,  or  otherwise  died  in  her  service, 
480,000  Irish  soldiers.  The  Brigade  was  kept  recruited  by 
military  emigrants,  borne  from  Ireland — chiefly  from  the 

The  People's  History  of  Ireland  397 

province  of  Munster — by  French  smugglers,  under  the  ro- 
mantic and  significant  title  of  "Wild  Geese" — in  poetical  al- 
lusion to  their  eastward  flight.  By  this  name  the  Brigade 
is  best  remembered  among  the  Irish  peasantry. 

After  the  death  of  Louis  XIV,  the  Irish  Brigade  had  com- 
paratively little  wholesale  fighting  to  keep  them  occupied, 
until  the  War  of  the  Austrian  Succession,  thirty  years  later. 
They  made  many  expeditions  to  the  smaller  states  on  the 
Rhenish  frontier,  with  which  France  was  in  a  chronic  state 
of  war,  under  the  Duke  of  Berwick.  In  every  combat  they 
served  with  honor,  and  always  appeared  to  best  advantage 
•where  the  hail  of  death  fell  thickest.  At  times,  like  most 
of  their  countrymen,  they  were  inclined  to  wildness,  but  the 
^rst  drum-roll  or  bugle  blast  found  them  ready  for  the  fray. 
On  the  march  to  attack  Fort  Kehl,  in  1733,  Marshal  Ber- 
wick— who  was  killed  two  years  afterward  at  the  siege 
of  Philipsburg — found  fault  with  Dillon's  regiment  for  some 
breach  of  discipline  while  en  route.  He  sent  the  colonel 
with  despatches  to  Louis  XV,  and,  among  other  matters, 
in  a  paternal  way — for  Berwick  loved  his  Irishmen — called 
the  king's  attention  to  the  indiscreet  battalion.  The  mon- 
arch, on  reading  the  document,  turned  to  the  Irish  officer, 
and,  in  the  hearing  of  the  whole  court,  petulantly  ex- 
claimed: "My  Irish  troops  cause  me  more  uneasiness  than 
alT  the  rest  of  my  armies!"  "Sire,"  immediately  rejoined 
the  noble  Count  Dillon — subsequently  killed  at  Fontenoy — 
"all  your  Majesty's  enemies  make  precisely  the  same  com- 
plaint." Louis,  pleased  with  the  repartee,  smiled,  and, 
like  a  true  Frenchman,  wiped  out  his  previous  unkindness 
by  complimenting  the  courage  of  the  Brigade. 

The  great  War  of  the  Austrian  Succession  inaugurated 
the  fateful  campaigns  of  1743  and  1745,  respectively  signal- 

39 8  The  People's  History  of  Ireland 

ized  by  the  battles  of  Dettingen  and  Fontenoy.  The  former 
was  a  day  of  dark  disaster  to  France,  and  Fontenoy  was  a 
mortal  blow  to  British  arrogance. 

At  Dettingen  the  Earl  of  Stair  commanded  the  English 
and  Hanoverians,  although  George  II  and  his  son,  Cumber- 
land, were  present  on  the  field.  Marshal  de  Noailles  com- 
manded the  French,  and  was  badly  worsted,  after  a  desper- 
ate engagement.  The  Irish  Brigade,  summoned  from  a  long 
distance,  arrived  too  late  to  restore  the  battle,  and  met  the 
French  army  in  full  retreat,  hotly  pursued  by  the  allies. 
The  Brigade,  under  the  orders  of  Lord  Clare,  opened  their 
ranks  and  allowed  the  French  to  retire,  and  then,  closing 
steadily  up,  they  uttered  their  charging  cry,  and,  with  lev- 
eled bayonet,  checked  the  fierce  pursuers.  Thus,  once  again, 
the  Irish  Brigade  formed  the  French  rearguard,  as  the 
Fleur-de-Lis  retired  from  the  plains  of  Germany. 

The  People's  History  of  Ireland  399 


The  Austrian  Succession — Campaign  of  1745 — Magnificent  Achieve- 
ment of  the  Irish  Brigade  at  Fontenoy — Prince  Louis's  Adieu 
to  the  Heroes 

r  I  s  HE  famous  battle  of  Fontenoy  was  fought  on  the  soil 
1  of  Belgium,  in  the  ancient  province  of  Hainault,  within 
some  thirty  miles  of  the  memorable  plains  of  Waterloo,  on 
May  n,  new  style,  1745.  France,  as  we  have  already 
noted,  championed  the  cause  of  Charles  of  Bavaria,  who 
laid  claim  to  the  Austrian  throne,  while  England,  Holland, 
Hanover,  and  Austria  took  the  side  of  Maria  Theresa,  who 
eventually,  owing  to  the  unexpected  death  of  Charles,  won 
the  fiercely  disputed  crown. 

The  French  were  besieging  Tournay  with  18,000  men. 
A  corps  of  6,000  guarded  the  bridges  over  the  Scheldt,  on 
the  northern  bank  of  which  Marshal  Saxe,  accompanied  by 
Louis  XV  and  the  Dauphin,  having  with  him  45,000  men, 
including  the  Irish  Brigade,  took  post,  to  cover  the  siege  of 
Tournay,  and  prevent  the  march  of  the  allies,  English, 
Dutch,  and  Germans,  under  the  Duke  of  Cumberland  and 
Prince  Waldeck,  to  its  relief.  The  duke  was  a  brave  sol- 
dier, but  fierce  and  cruel  as  a  tiger.  History  knows  him  by 
the  well-won  title  of  "the  butcher  Cumberland."  His  busi- 
ness was  to  raise  the  siege  of  Tournay  and  open  a  road  to 
Paris.  He  had  under  his  command  55,000  veteran  troops, 
including  the  English  Household  regiments. 

The  French  lines  extended  from  the  village  of  Rhame- 
croix,  behind  De  Barri's  Wood,  on  the  left,  to  the  village 
of  Fontenoy,  in  the  centre,  and  from  the  latter  position  to 

Ireland— 18     '  Vol.  I. 

4OO  The  People's  History  of  IreJand 

the  intrenchments  of  Antoine,  on  the  right.  This  line  of 
defence  was  admirably  guarded  by  "fort  and  flanking  bat- 
tery." The  Irish  Brigade — composed  that  day  of  the  in- 
fantry regiments  of  Clare,  Dillon,  Bulkeley,  Roth,  Ber- 
wick, and  Lally — Fitz-James's  horse  being  with  the  French 
cavalry  in  advance — was  stationed,  in  reserve,  near  the 
wood,  supported  by  the  brigades  of  Normandie  and  De  Vas- 

Prince  Waldeck  commanded  the  allied  left,  in  front  of 
Antoine.  Brigadier  Ingoldsby  commanded  the  British 
right,  facing  the  French  redoubt  at  De  Barri's  Wood,  while 
Cumberland,  chief  in  command,  was  with  the  allied  centre, 
confronting  Fontenoy. 

The  battle  opened  with  a  furious  cannonade,  at  5  o'clock 
in  the  morning.  After  some  hours  spent  in  this  manner, 
Ingoldsby  attempted  to  carry  the  redoubt,  but  was  igno- 
miniously  repulsed,  and  could  not  be  induced  to  renew  the 
attempt.  This  refusal  subsequently  led  to  his  dismissal 
from  the  army  on  a  charge  of  cowardice.  Prince  Waldeck 
fared  no  better  at  Antoine,  being  defeated  in  two  attempts 
to  force  the  lines.  The  Duke  of  Cumberland,  grown  impa- 
tient because  of  repeated  failures,  loaded  the  unfortunate 
commanding  officers  with  imprecations.  He  took  the  re- 
solve of  beating  the  French  at  any  cost  by  a  concentrated 
attack  on  their  left  centre,  through  a  gap  of  about  700 
yards,  which  occurred  between  the  Fontenoy  redoubts  and 
the  work  vainly  attacked  by  Ingoldsby  in  the  edge  of  the 
wood  of  Barri.  For  this  purpose,  he  formed  his  reserves 
and  least  battered  active  battalions,  including  the  English 
guards,  several  British  line  regiments,  and  a  large  body  of 
picked  Hanoverian  troops,  into  three  columns,  aggregating 
16,000  men,  preceded  and  flanked  by  twenty  pieces  of  can- 

The  People's  History  of  Ireland  401 

non,  all  drawn  by  hand,  to  avoid  the  confusion  incident  on 
the  killing  and  wounding  of  the  battery  horses.  But  subse- 
quent developments  compelled  the  Duke  to  change  the  orig- 
inal formation  to  one  massive,  solid  oblong  wedge,  the  Brit- 
ish on  the  right  and  the  Hanoverians  on  the  left.  Lord 
Charles  Hay,  the  boldest  soldier  in  the  allied  army,  drew  his 
sword  and  led  the  attacking  column.  Meanwhile,  Cumber- 
land renewed  the  attack  all  along  the  line,  in  order  to  cover 
the  advance  of  his  human  battering-ram.  Thus,  the  French 
were  pressed  hard  at  every  point,  but  their  batteries  and  bat- 
talions replied  with  spirit,  and  Antoine  held  out  heroically 
in  spite  of  all  the  efforts  of  Waldeck  and  his  Dutch  and 
Austrian  troops  against  it.  These  latter  were  badly  cut  up 
by  the  fire  of  a  French  battery  planted  beyond  the  Scheldt. 
Up  to  this  period,  about  the  noon  hour,  everything  had  gone 
favorably  for  the  French. 

But  the  decisive  moment  had  now  arrived,  and  the  great 
Anglo-Hanoverian  column  received  the  command — "For- 
ward, march!"  "In  front  of  them,  as  it  chanced,"  says 
Mitchel,  "were  four  battalions  of  the  French  guards, 
with  two  battalions  of  Swiss  on  their  left  and  two  other 
French  regiments  on  their  right.  The  French  officers 
seem  to  have  been  greatly  surprised  when  they  saw  the 
English  battery  taking  up  position  on  the  summit  of  the 
rising  ground.  'English  cannon!'  they  cried.  'Let  us 
go  and  take  them!'  They  mounted  the  slope  with  their 
grenadiers,  but  were  astonished  to  find  an  army  on  their 
front.  A  heavy  discharge,  both  of  artillery  and  musketry, 
made  them  quickly  recoil  with  heavy  loss."  On,  then, 
swept  the  English  column,  with  free  and  gallant  stride,  be- 
tween Fontenoy  and  De  Barri's  wood,  whose  batteries 
plowed  them  from  flank  to  flank  at  every  step.  But  in  the 

402  The  People's  History  of  Ireland 

teeth  of  the  artillery,  the  musketry  and  the  bomb-shells 
which  rose,  circled  and  fell  among  them,  killing  and  wound- 
ing scores  at  each  explosion;  charged  by  the  cavalry  of  the 
royal  household,  and  exposed  to  the  iron  hail  of  the  French 
sharpshooters,  that  blue-and-scarlet  wave  of  battle  rolled 
proudly  against  the  serried  ranks  of  France.  Falling  by 
the  hundred,  they  finally  got  beyond  the  cross-fire  from  the 
redoubts,  crossed  the  slope  and  penetrated  behind  the  vil- 
lage of  Fontenoy — marching  straight  on  the  headquarters 
of  the  king !  The  column  was  quickly  in  the  middle  of  the 
picked  soldiers  of  France,  tossing  them  haughtily  aside 
with  the  ready  bayonet,  while  the  cheers  of  anticipated  vic- 
tory resounded  from  their  ranks  far  over  the  bloody  field. 
Marshal  Saxe,  ill,  and  pale  with  rage  and  vexation,  sprang, 
unarmored,  upon  his  horse,  and  seemed  to  think  the  battle 
lost,  for  he  ordered  the  evacuation  of  Antoine,  in  order  that 
the  bridges  across  the  Scheldt  might  be  covered  and  the 
king's  escape  assured.  At  this  moment,  Count  Lally,  of 
the  Irish  Brigade,  rode  up  to  Duke  Richelieu,  Saxe's  chief 
aide,  and  said  to  him:  "We  have  still  four  field-pieces  in 
reserve — they  should  batter  the  head  of  that  column.  The 
Irish  Brigade  has  not  yet  been  engaged.  Order  it  to  fall 
on  the  English  flank.  Let  the  whole  army  second  it — let 
us  fall  on  the  English  like  foragers !"  Richelieu,  who,  after- 
ward, allowed  the  suggestion  to  appear  as  if  coming  from 
himself,  went  at  once  to  Saxe  and  gave  him  the  substance 
of  Lally's  proposal.  The  king  and  Dauphin,  who  were  pres- 
ent, approved  of  it.  The  order  to  evacuate  Antoine  was 
countermanded,  and  aides  immediately  galloped  to  the  rear 
of  the  wood  of  Barri  to  order  up  the  Irish  Brigade,  com- 
manded by  Lord  Clare,  and  its  supporting  regiments.  These 
brave  men,  rendered  excited  and  impatient  by  the  noise  of 

The  People's  History  of  Ireland  403 

the  battle,  in  which  they  had  not  yet  been  allowed  to  par- 
ticipate, received  the  command  with  loud  demonstrations  of 
joy.  Their  officers  immediately  led  them  toward  the  point 
of  danger. 

Meanwhile,  the  English  column,  marching  and  firing 
steadily — that  "infernal,  rolling  fire,"  so  characteristic  of 
the  British  mode  of  fighting — kept  on  its  terrible  course,  and 
crushed  every  French  organization  that  stood  in  its  path. 
Had  the  Dutch  and  Austrians  succeeded  in  carrying  Antoine 
at  this  moment,  Cumberland  must  have  been  victorious  and 
the  French  army  could  not  have  escaped.  Already  the  col- 
umn, still  bleeding  at  every  stride,  was  within  sight  of  the 
royal  tent.  The  English  officers  actually  laid  their  canes 
along  the  barrels  of  the  muskets  to  make  the  men  fire  low. 
Suddenly,  the  fire  from  the  four  reserve  French  cannon 
opened  on  the  head  of  the  column,  and  the  foremost  files 
went  down.  The  English  guns  replied  stoutly  and  the 
march  was  renewed.  But  now  there  came  an  ominous 
sound  from  the  side  of  De  Barri's  wood  that  made  Lord 
Hay,  brave  and  bold  as  he  was,  start,  pause,  and  listen.  It 
swelled  above  the  crash  of  artillery  and  the  continuous  rattle 
of  musketry.  "Nearer,  clearer,  deadlier  than  before,"  that 
fierce  hurrah  bursts  upon  the  ear  of  battle!  The  English 
have  heard  that  shout  before  and  remember  it  to  their  cost. 
The  crisis  of  the  conflict  has  come,  and  the  command,  by 
voice  and  bugle,  "Halt !  halt !"  rang  from  front  to  rear  of  the 
bleeding  column.  The  ranks  were  dressed  hastily,  and  the 
English  prepared  to  meet  the  advancing  enemy  with  a 
deadly  volley  from  their  front  and  long  right  flank.  They 
looked  anxiously  in  the  direction  of  the  wood  and  beheld 
long  lines  and  bristling  columns  of  men  in  blue  and  red — 
the  uniform  of  the  Irish  Brigade — coming  on  at  the  charg- 

404  The  People's  History  of  Ireland 

ing  step,  with  colors  flying  and  "the  generals  and  colonels 
on  horseback  among  the  glittering  bayonets."  They  did 
not  fire  a  single  shot  as  they  came  on.  Behind  them  were 
masses  of  men  in  blue  and  white.  These  were  the  French 
supports.  Again  the  British  officers  laid  their  canes 
across  the  barrels  of  the  muskets,  and,  as  the  Bri- 
gade came  within  close  range,  a  murderous  volley 
rolled  out.  Hundreds  of  the  Irish  fell,  but  the  survivors, 
leaping  over  the  dead,  dying,  and  wounded,  never  paused  for 
a  moment.  They  closed  the  wide  gaps  in  their  ranks  and 
advanced  at  a  run  until  they  came  within  bayonet  thrust  or 
butt-stroke  of  the  front  and  right  of  the  English  column, 
which  they  immediately  crushed  out  of  military  shape ;  while 
their  fierce  war-shout,  uttered  in  the  Irish  tongue — "Re- 
venge! Remember  Limerick  and  English  treachery!" 
sounded  the  death-knell  of  Cumberland's  heroic  soldiers. 
While  the  clubbed  muskets  of  the  Brigade  beat  down  the  En- 
glish ranks,  that  furious  war-cry  rang  even  unto  the  walls 
of  old  Tournay.  The  French  regiments  of  Normandie  and 
Vassieux  bravely  seconded  the  Irish  charge,  and  they  and 
other  Gallic  troops  disposed  of  the  Hanoverians.  Within 
ten  minutes  from  the  time  when  the  Brigade  came  in  con- 
tact with  the  English  column,  no  British  soldiers,  except  the 
dead,  wounded,  and  captured,  remained  on  the  slope  of  Fon- 
tenoy.  Bulkeley's  Irish  regiment  nearly  annihilated  the 
Coldstream  Guards  and  captured  their  colors. 

This  victory  saved  France  from  invasion,  but  it  cost  the 
Irish  dear.  Count  Dillon  was  slain,  Lord  Clare  disabled, 
while  one-third  of  the  officers  and  one-fourth  of  the  men 
were  killed  or  wounded.  King  Louis,  next  morning,  pub- 
licly thanked  the  Irish,  made  Lally  a  general,  and  Lord  Clare 
was,  soon  afterward,  created  a  marshal  of  France.  Eng- 

The  People's  History  of  Ireland  405 

land  met  retribution  for  her  cruelty  and  faithlessness  to  Ire- 
land, and  King  George  vehemently  cursed  the  laws  which 
drove  the  Irish  exiles  to  win  glory  and  vengeance  on  that 
bloody  day. 

The  losses  in  the  battle  were  nearly  equal — the  French, 
Swiss,  and  Irish  losing  altogether  7,139  men  killed, 
wounded,  and  missing;  while  the  English,  Hanoverians, 
Dutch,  and  Austrians  acknowledged  a  total  loss  of  7,7^7 
men,  said  by  O'Callaghan  to  be  an  underestimate.  Fon- 
tenoy  was  one  of  the  greatest  of  French  victories,  and  led, 
in  the  same  campaign,  to  numerous  other  successes.  Among 
the  latter  may  be  enumerated  the  triumph  at  Melle,  the  sur- 
prise of  Ghent,  the  occupation  of  Bruges,  and  the  capture 
of  Oudenarde,  Dendermonde,  Ostend,  Nieuport,  and  Ath. 

Several  officers  of  the  Irish  Brigade  went  with  Prince 
Charles  Edward  Stuart  to  Scotland,  when  he  made  his  gal- 
lant but  ill-fated  attempt  to  restore  the  fallen  fortunes  of 
his  luckless  father,  called  by  the  Jacobites  James  VIII  of 
Scotland  and  James  III  of  England  and  Ireland,  in  1745-46. 
The  Hanoverian  interest  called  James  the  "Old"  and 
Charles  Edward  the  "Young"  Pretender.  The  Irish  officers 
formed  "Prince  Charles's"  chosen  bodyguard  when  he  was 
a  fugitive  amid  the  Highlands  and  Western  Isles  after  Cullo- 
den.  One  of  the  last  great  field  exploits  of  the  Irish  Bri- 
gade was  its  victorious  charge  at  Laffeldt,  in  Flanders,  in 
1747,  when,  for  the  second  time,  it  humiliated  Cumberland, 
and,  in  a  measure,  avenged  his  base  massacre  of  the  gallant 
Scottish  Highland  clans,  in  1746.  The  victory  of  Laffeldt 
led  to  the  Peace  of  Aix-la-Chapelle,  which  was  favorable 
to  France,  in  1748.  The  Brigade  took  part  in  each  succeed- 
ing war  in  which  France  was  involved  down  to  the  period 
of  the  Revolution.  Some  of  its  regiments  served  also  in 

406  The  People's  History  of  Ireland 

India  and  America.  Under  Count  Dillon,  several  Irish  bat- 
talions distinguished  themselves  in  the  dashing,  but  un- 
successful, attack  on  the  British  at  Savannah,  Ga.,  in  1779, 
when  the  brave  Count  Pulaski,  who  led  the  assault,  was 
killed  on  the  ramparts.  By  that  time,  however,  the  volume 
of  recruits  from  Ireland  had  greatly  diminished,  owing  to 
the  gradual  relaxation  of  the  penal  code,  and  a  majority 
of  the  officers  and  soldiers  of  the  Brigade  were,  although  of 
Irish  blood,  French  by  birth.  Some  of  the  officers  were 
French  by  both  birth  and  blood,  and,  among  them,  in  1791, 
was  the  great-grandson  of  St.  Ruth.  The  Brigade,  as  be- 
came it,  remained  faithful  to  the  last  to  the  Bourbon 
dynasty.  Unfortunately  this  fidelity  led  the  feeble  remnant, 
under  Colonel  O'Connell,  to  take  service  in  the  West  In- 
dies, beneath  the  British  flag,  after  the  Revolution.  In 
extenuation  of  their  fault,  it  must  be  remembered  that  they 
were,  to  a  man,  monarchists;  that  the  Stuart  cause  was 
hopelessly  lost,  and  that  both  tradition  and  education  made 
them  the  inevitable  enemies  of  the  new  order  of  things  in 
France.  Still,  an  Irish  historian  may  be  pardoned  for  re- 
marking that  it  were  much  better  for  the  fame  of  the 
Brigade  of  Cremona  and  Fontenoy  if  its  senile  heir-at-law 
had  refrained  from  accepting  the  pay  of  the  country  whose 
tyranny  had  driven  the  original  organization  into  hopeless 

But  the  active  career  of  the  bold  Brigade  terminated  in 
a  blaze  of  glory.  The  hand  of  a  prince,  destined  to  be  a 
monarch,  inscribed  its  proud  epitaph  when,  in  1792,  the 
Comte  de  Provence,  afterward  Louis  XVIII,  presented 
to  the  surviving  officers  a  drapeau  d'adieu,  or  flag  of  fare- 
well— a  gold  harp  wreathed  with  shamrocks  and  fleur-de- 
lis,  on  a  white  ground,  with  the  following  touching  words : 

The  People's  History  of  Ireland  407 

"Gentlemen :  We  acknowledge  the  inappreciable  services 
that  France  has  received  from  the  Irish  Brigade  in  the 
course  of  the  last  hundred  years — services  that  we  shall 
never  forget,  though  under  an  impossibility  of  requiting 
them.  Receive  this  standard  as  a  pledge  of  our  remem- 
brance, a  monument  of  our  admiration  and  our  respect, 
and,  in  future,  generous  Irishmen,  this  shall  be  the  motto 
of  your  stainless  flag — 

"  '1692-1792.' 
"Semper  et  Ubique  Fidelis! 

("Ever,  and  everywhere,  faithful.") 

Never  did  military  body  receive  a  nobler  discharge  from 

And  yet,  well  might  the  haughty  Bourbon  prince  so 
express  himself.  In  defence  of  his  house^  there  died  be- 
neath the  golden  lilies,  in  camp  and  breach  and  field,  nearly 
500,000  of  Ireland's  daring  manhood.  It  is  no  wonder  that 
with  those  heroes  departed  much  of  her  warlike  spirit  and 
springing  courage.  Her  "wild  geese,"  as  she  fondly  Called 
them,  will  never  fly  again  to  her  bosom  across  the  waves 
that  aided  their  flight  to  exile  and  to  glory.  The  cannon 
of  all  Europe  pealed  above  their  gory  graves,  on  many  a 
stricken  field,  the  soldier's  requiem. 

"They  fought  as  they  reveled,  fast,  fiery,  and  true, 
And,  tho'  victors,  they  left  on  the  field  not  a  few; 
And  they  who  survived  fought  and  drank  as  of  yore, 
But  the  land  of  their  hearts'  hope  they  saw  nevermore : 
For,  in  far  foreign  fields,  from  Dunkirk  to  Belgrade, 
Lie  the  soldiers  and  chiefs  of  the  Irish  Brigade !" 

Its  successor  in  the  French  army  was  the  Irish  Legion, 
composed  in  the  main  of  refugees  who  had  participated  in 
the  "rebellion"  of  1798  and  the  "rising"  of  1803.  This 

408  The  People's  History  of  Ireland 

fine  body  of  soldiers  was  organized  by  Napoleon  himself, 
wore  a  distinctively  Irish  uniform  of  green  and  gold,  and 
carried  French  and  Irish  colors.  To  it,  also,  was  intrusted 
an  eagle — the  only  foreign  force  that  was  so  honored  by 
the  greatest  of  generals.  The  Legion  fought  for  the  Em- 
peror, with  splendid  fidelity,  from  1805  to  1815,  partici- 
pating in  most  of  the  great  battles  of  that  warlike  period. 
It  was  naturally  expected  that  Louis  XVIII,  on  his  final 
restoration  to  the  throne,  would  revive  the  old  Irish  Bri- 
gade, so  highly  praised  by  him,  when  Comte  de  Provence, 
in  1792,  but  he  was  under  too  many  obligations  to  Eng- 
land, and,  in  fact,  his  treaty  with  that  power,  after  the 
second  exile  of  Napoleon,  made  it  obligatory  on  him  not  to 
accept  an  Irish  military  contingent  under  any  consideration. 
His  acquiescence  in  this  ignoble  compact  makes  more  em- 
phatic the  venerable  adage,  "Put  not  your  trust  in  Princes." 




Anti-Catholic    Penal   Laws — Their   Drastic,   Brutal   and   Absurd   Pro- 
visions— Professional  Informers,  Called  "Priest-Hunters" 

WE  now  approach  a  period  of  Irish  history  from  which 
we  would  gladly  escape,  if  we  could;  a  period  de- 
grading to  Ireland,  disgraceful  to  England,  and  shocking 
to  humanity.  We  are  about  to  deal  with  the  dark  and 
bloody  period  of  the  revived  penal  code,  in  Ireland,  follow- 
ing fast  upon  the  capitulation  of  Limerick.  Many  writers 
have  extolled  the  fair-mindedness  and  liberality  of  William 
III,  but  his  course  toward  Ireland  does  not  sustain  the  jus- 
tice of  their  eulogies.  That  he  was  an  indifferentist  in 
matters  of  religion  is  not  doubted,  yet  he  permitted  persecu- 
tion for  conscience'  sake  in  his  Irish  dominion.  That  he 
was  an  able  man  has  not  been  disputed,  yet  he  permitted 
English  jealousy  to  destroy  the  trade  and  industries  of  his 
own  supporters  in  Ireland,  thereby  driving  thousands  on 
thousands  of  the  Irish  dissenters  to  the  American  colonies, 
which  their  descendants,  in  1775-83,  did  so  much  to  make 
"free  and  independent."  We  can  find  nothing  to  admire 
in  the  Irish  policy  of  William  III.  Had  he  been  an  honest 
bigot,  a  fanatic  on  the  subject  of  religion,  we  could  under- 
stand his  toleration  of  the  legislative  abominations  which 
made  the  Irish  Catholic  a  helot  on  his  native  soil.  Had 
he  been  an  imbecile  we  could  understand  how  English  plau- 
sibility might  have  imposed  upon  him  in  the  matter  of  Irish 
Protestant  commerce.  However,  not  much  of  moral  stam- 
ina could  be  expected  from  a  man  who  estranged  his  wife 

(41 1) 

412  The  People's  History  of  Ireland 

and  his  sister-in-law,  Anne,  from  their  own  father ;  or  from 
a  nephew,  and  son-in-law,  that  did  not  scruple  to  play  the 
cuckoo  and  eject  his  own  uncle  and  father-in-law  from  the 
royal  nest  of  England.  Add  to  this  his  heartless  policy  to- 
ward the  Macdonalds  of  Glencoe,  in  Scotland,  the  order  for 
whose  massacre  he  countersigned  himself,  and  we  find  our- 
selves utterly  unable  to  give  William  of  Orange  credit  for 
sincerity,  liberality,  or  common  humanity.  He  was  per- 
sonally courageous,  a  fair  general,  and  a  cautious  states- 
man. These  about  summed  up  his  good  qualities.  But  he 
interposed  no  objection  when,  notwithstanding  the  solemn 
civil  articles  of  Limerick,  he  permitted  the  estates  of  the 
adherents  of  King  James,  to  whom  his  Lords  Justices,  by 
royal  sanction,  guaranteed  immunity,  to  be  confiscated. 

Mitchel,  a  Protestant  in  belief,  says  in  his  "History  of 
Ireland,"  page  3 :  "The  first  distinct  breach  of  the  Articles 
of  Limerick  was  perpetrated  by  King  William  and  his 
Parliament  in  England,  just  two  months  after  those  articles 
were  signed.  King  William  was  in  the  Netherlands  when 
he  heard  of  the  surrender  of  Limerick,  and,  at  once,  hastened 
to  London.  Three  days  later  he  summoned  a  Parliament. 
Very  early  in  the  session,  the  English  House  of  Commons, 
exercising  its  customary  power  of  binding  Ireland  by  acts 
passed  in  London,  sent  up  to  the  House  of  Lords  a  bill 
providing  that  no  person  should  sit  in  the  Irish  Parliament, 
nor  should  hold  any  Irish  office,  civil,  military,  or  ecclesias- 
tical, nor  should  practice  law  or  medicine  in  Ireland,  till  he 
had  first  taken  the  oaths  of  allegiance  and  supremacy,  and 
subscribed  to  the  declaration  against  transubstantiation.  The 
law  was  passed,  only  reserving  the  right  [of  practice]  to 
such  lawyers  and  physicians  as  had  been  within  the  walls 
of  Galway  and  Limerick  when  those  towns  capitulated." 

The  People's  History  of  Ireland  413 

Thenceforward  there  were  repeated  violations  of  the  treaty, 
during  the  reign  of  William  and  Mary,  although  the  penal 
laws  did  not  reach  the  acme  of  their  crushing  severity  until 
the  reigns  of  their  immediate  successors,  Queen  Anne, 
George  I,  and  George  II.  Lord  Macaulay  himself,  who 
does  not  admit  that  William  III  was  ever  wrong,  acknowl- 
edges, in  his  "History  of  England,"  that  "the  Irish  Roman 
Catholics  complained,  and  with  but  too  much  reason,  that, 
at  a  later  period,  the  Treaty  of  Limerick  was  violated." 
The  main  opposition  to  the  confirmation  of  the  treaty  came, 
as  might  be  expected,  from  the  party  of  Protestant  ascend- 
ency in  Ireland,  which  had  in  view  "the  glory  of  God,"  and 
wholesale  confiscation  of  Catholic  property.  Their  horror 
of  what  they  called  "Popery"  was  strongly  influenced  by 
a  pious  greed  for  cheap  real  estate.  There  were,  of  course, 
many  noble  exceptions  to  this  mercenary  rule  among  the 
Protestants  of  Ireland,  even  in  the  blackest  period  of  "the 
penal  days."  If  there  had  not  been,  the  Catholics  must 
have  been  exterminated.  It  is  only  fair  to  say  that  the 
majority  of  the  poorer  Protestant  Irish — particularly  the 
Dissenters — had  little  or  no  part  in  framing  the  penal 
code,  and  that  many  members  of  the  Irish  House  of  Lords, 
including  Protestant  bishops,  indignantly  protested  against 
the  formal  violation  of  the  Articles  of  Limerick,  contained 
in  the  act  of  the  "Irish"  Parliament,  passed  in  1695. 

Lord  Sydney,  William's  Lord  Lieutenant  in  Ireland,  sum- 
moned the  first  Irish  Parliament  of  his  master's  reign,  in 
1692,  and  this  was  the  only  Parliament,  except  that  called 
together  by  King  James  in  1689,  which  had  met  in  Ireland 
in  six-and-twenty  years.  No  act  of  Catholic  disqualifica- 
tion for  Parliament  existed  in  Ireland  at  that  time,  and, 
therefore,  a  few  Catholic  lords  and  commoners  presented 

414  The  People's  History  of  Ireland 

themselves,  on  summons,  and  took  their  seats.  They  had 
forgotten  that  the  "paternal"  English  Parliament  had,  in 
1691,  provided  for  such  an  emergency,  and  were  taken 
aback  when  the  clerks  of  Parliament  presented  to  them  "the 
oath  of  supremacy,  declaring  the  King  of  England  to  be 
head  of  the  Church,  and  affirming  the  sacrifice  of  the  Mass 
to  be  damnable."  Mitchel  says,  further,  of  what  followed : 
"The  oath  was  put  to  each  member  of  both  Houses,  and  the 
few  Catholics  present  at  once  retired,  so  that  the  Parlia- 
ment, when  it  proceeded  to  business,  was  purely  Protestant. 
Here,  then,  ended  the  last  vestige  of  constitutional  right  for 
the  Catholics;  from  this  date,  and  for  generations  to  come, 
they  could  no  longer  consider  themselves  a  part  of  the  ex- 
isting body  politic  of  their  native  land,  and  the  division  [of 
the  Irish]  into  two  nations  became  definite.  There  was 
the  dominant  nation,  consisting  of  the  British  colony,  and 
the  subject  nation,  consisting  of  five-sixths  of  the  popula- 
tion, who  had,  therefore,  no  more  influence  upon  public 
affairs  than  have  the  red  Indians  of  the  United  States." 
In  order  to  more  fully  reduce  the  Catholics  of  Ireland  to  the 
condition  described,  an  act  was  passed  by  the  Irish  Parlia- 
ment in  1697  which  provided  that  "a  Protestant  marrying 
a  Catholic  was  disabled  from  sitting  or  voting  in  either 
House  of  Parliament."  We  may  add  that,  following  up  this 
policy,  the  same  Parliament,  thirty  years  later,  fearing  that 
the  Catholics  were  not  even  yet  sufficiently  effaced  from  po- 
litical life,  passed  another  bill  by  which  it  was  enacted  that 
"no  Catholic  shall  be  entitled,  or  admitted,  to  vote  at  the 
election  of  any  member  to  serve  in  Parliament,  as  a  knight, 
citizen,  or  burgess ;  or  at  the  election  of  any  magistrate  for 
any  city  or  other  town  corporate ;  any  law,  statute,  or  usage 
to  the  contrary  notwithstanding." 

The  People's  History  of  Ireland  415 

Mitchel,  commenting  on  the  severity  of  the  penal  laws, 
presents  a  curiously  contradictory  situation  in  the  Ireland 
of  King  William's  time  when  he  says:  "But  though  the 
inhabitants  of  Ireland  were  now,  counting  from  1692,  de- 
finitively divided  into  two  castes,  there  arose  immediately, 
strange  to  say,  a  strong  sentiment  of  Irish  nationality — not, 
indeed,  among  the  depressed  Catholics;  they  were  done 
with  national  sentiment  and  aspiration  for  a  time — but  the 
Protestants  of  Ireland  had  lately  grown  numerous,  wealthy, 
and  strong.  Their  numbers  had  been  largely  increased 
by  English  settlers  coming  to  enjoy  the  plunder  of  the  for- 
feited estates,  and  very  much  by  conversions,  or  pretended 
conversions,  of  Catholics,  who  had  recanted  their  faith  to 
save  their  property  or  their  position  in  society,  and  who  gen- 
erally altered  or  disguised  their  family  names  when  these 
had  too  Celtic  a  sound.  The  Irish  Protestants  also  prided 
themselves  on  having  saved  the  kingdom  for  William  and 
the  'Ascendancy/  and  having  now  totally  put  down  the  an- 
cient nation  under  their  feet,  they  aspired  to  take  its  place, 
to  rise  from  a  colony  to  a  nation,  and  to  assert  the  dignity 
of  an  independent  kingdom." 

Even  the  Irish  Protestant  Parliament  of  1692  quarreled 
with  Lord  Lieutenant  Sydney  over  a  revenue  bill,  which 
originated  in  London,  and  which  it  rejected,  although  it 
passed  another  bill,  having  a  like  origin,  on  the  ground  of 
emergency.  During  the  debate  on  these  measures,  several 
members  denied  the  right  of  England  to  tax  Ireland  with- 
out her  consent,  and  insisted  that  all  revenue  bills,  which 
called  for  Irish  taxation,  should  originate  in  Ireland,  not  in 
England.  This  bold  spirit  angered  Lord  Sydney,  who  im- 
mediately prorogued  that  Parliament,  not,  however,  before 
he  made  an  overbearing  speech,  in  which  he  rebuked  the  ac- 

4i 6  The  Peoples  History  of  Ireland 

tion  of  the  members  and  haughtily  asserted  the  supremacy 
of  the  British  Parliament  over  that  of  Ireland.  His  re- 
marks left  a  sting  in  Protestant  Ireland  and  served  to 
strengthen,  rather  than  weaken,  the  national  sentiment  al- 
luded to  by  Mitchel. 

In  1693,  King  James  the  Vacillating,  then  a  pensioner  of 
the  King  of  France,  at  St.  Germain,  issued  a  declaration  to 
his  former  subjects  of  England  in  which  he  made  humiliat- 
ing promises,  at  variance  with  his  previous  record,  and  in 
which,  among  other  things,  he  promised  if  restored  to  the 
throne  to  keep  inviolate  the  Act  of  Settlement,  which  de- 
prived his  Catholic  supporters  in  Ireland  of  their  estates! 
This  perfidious  document  aroused  great  indignation  among 
the  Irish  military  exiles,  and  James,  through  his  English 
advisers  in  France,  attempted  to  smooth  matters  over  by 
promising  that,  in  the  event  of  his  success,  he  would  recom- 
pense all  who  might  suffer  by  his  act,  by  giving  them  equiva- 
lents. Lord  Middleton,  a  Scotch  peer,  is  held  chiefly  re- 
sponsible for  having  led  King  James  into  this  disgraceful 
transaction — the  most  blameful  of  his  unfortunate  career. 
"There  was  no  such  promise  [of  recompense]  in  the  declara- 
tion" (to  the  English),  says  the  historian  recently  quoted, 
"but,  in  truth,  the  Irish  troops  in  the  army  of  King  Louis 
were,  at  that  time,  too  busy  in  camp  and  field,  and  too 
keenly  desirous  to  meet  the  English  in  battle,  to  pay  much 
attention  to  anything  coming  from  King  James.  They  had 
had  enough  of  'Righ  Seamus'  at  the  Boyne  Water." 

Lord  Sydney,  although  inimical  to  the  claim  of  Irish 
Parliamentary  independence,  was  rather  friendly  to  the  per- 
secuted Irish  Catholics,  and  was,  therefore,  at  the  request  of 
the  "Ascendancy"  faction,  speedily  recalled,  not,  however, 
before,  after  two  proroguements,  he  had  dissolved  the  Par- 

The  People's  History  of  Ireland  417 

liament  convened  in  1692.  Three  Lords  Justices — Lord 
Capel,  Sir  Cyril  Wyche,  and  Mr.  Buncombe — were  given  the 
government  of  Ireland  in  his  stead,  but,  owing  to  serious  dis- 
sensions among  themselves,  Capel  was  finally  appointed  Lord 
Lieutenant,  and,  in  1695,  summoned  a  new  Parliament  to 
meet  in  Dublin.  This  assembly  was  destined  to  be  infamous. 
Its  first  act  was  to  bring  up  the  articles  of  the  Treaty  of  Lim- 
erick for  "confirmation,"  and  it  "confirmed"  them  by  veto- 
ing all  the  important  and  agreeing  to  all  the  trivial  pro- 
visions. The  enumeration  of  all  the  penal  laws  passed  by 
this  'Parliament  would  be  tedious  in  the  extreme,  and  a 
bare  outline  will  suffice  to  show  their 'demoralizing  tendency  : 
It  was  enacted  that  Catholic  schoolmasters  were  forbidden 
to  teach,  either  publicly  or  privately,  under  severe  penalty; 
and  the  parents  of  Catholic  children  were  prohibited  from 
sending  them  to  be  educated  abroad.  All  Catholics  were  re- 
quired to  surrender  their  arms,  and,  in  order  to  enforce  the 
act  more  thoroughly,  "right  of  search"  was  given  to  magis- 
trates, so  that  Catholic  householders  could  be  disturbed  at 
any  hour  of  the  day  or  night,  their  bedrooms  invaded,  and 
the  women  of  their  family  subjected  to  exposure  and  insult. 

Notwithstanding  the  clause  in  the  Treaty  of  Limerick 
which  was  supposed  to  secure  the  Catholic  landholders  in 
certain  counties  in  the  possession  of  their  property,  Parlia- 
ment made  a  clean  sweep  by  confiscating  the  property  of  all, 
to  the  extent  of  over  a  million  acres,  so  that  now,  at  long 
run,  after  three  series  of  confiscations,  there  remained  in 
Catholic  hands  less  than  one-seventh  of  the  entire  surface 
of  the  island.  The  Protestant  one-sixth  owned  all  the 

It  was  agreed  not  to  seriously  disturb  the  parish  priests, 
who  were  incumbents  at  the  time  of  the  treaty,  but  no 

4i  8  The  People's  History  of  Ireland 

curates  were  allowed  them,  and  they  were  compelled  tc 
register  their  names,  like  ticket-of-leave  men,  in  a  book  fur- 
nished by  government.  They  had,  also,  to  give  security  for 
their  "good  conduct,"  and  there  were  other  insulting  exac- 
tions— the  emanation  of  bitter  hearts  and  narrow  brains. 
All  Catholic  prelates,  the  Jesuits,  monks,  and  "regular 
clergy,"  of  whatever  order,  were  peremptorily  ordered  to 
quit  Ireland  by  May  i,  1698.  If  any  returned  after  that 
date,  they  were  to  be  arrested  for  high  treason,  "tried,"  and, 
of  course,  condemned  and  executed.  The  object  was  to 
leave  the  Catholic  people  without  spiritual  guides,  except 
Protestants,  after  the  "tolerated"  parish  priests  had  passed 
away;  but,  in  spite  of  the  penal  enactment,  a  large  number 
of  devoted  proscribed  bishops  and  priests  remained  in  Ire- 
land, and  the  prelates  administered  holy  orders  to  ycung 
clerical  students,  who,  like  themselves,  had  defied  penalties 
and  risked  their  lives  for  the  service  of  God  and  the  con- 
solation of  their  suffering  people. 

In  order  to  still  further  humiliate  the  unfortunate  Irish 
Catholics,  this  Parliament  of  bigots  decreed  that  no  Catho- 
lic chapel  should  be  furnished  with  either  bell  or  belfry. 
Such  smallness  would  seem  incredible  in  our  age,  but  the 
enactments  stand  out,  in  all  their  hideousness,  in  the  old 
statutes  of  the  Irish  Parliament,  still  preserved  in  the  gov- 
ernment archives  in  Dublin  and  London.  It  was  this  Par- 
liament that  decreed,  further,  that  no  Catholic  could  possess 
a  horse  of  or  over  the  value  of  £5  sterling.  On  offering 
that  sum,  or  anything  over  it,  any  Protestant  could  become 
owner  of  the  animal. 

The  Irish  peers  who  protested  against  this  tyranny  were 
Lords  Londonderry,  Tyrone,  and  Duncannon,  the  Barons 
Ossory,  Limerick,  Killaloe,  Kerry,  Howth,  Kingston,  and 

The  People's  History  of  Ireland  419 

Strabane,  and  the  Protestant  bishops  of  Kildare,  Elphin, 
Derry,  Clonfert,  and  Killala — to  whom  be  eternal  honor. 

But  the  penal  laws  were  not  yet  completed.  They  had  just 
about  begun.  In  1704,  when  the  Duke  of  Ormond,  grand- 
son of  the  Ormond  of  Cromwellian  days,  became  viceroy 
for  Queen  Anne,  another  Irish  Ascendancy  Parliament  en- 
acted, among  other  things,  that  the  eldest  son  of  a  Catholic, 
by  becoming  Protestant,  could  become  the  owner  of  his 
father's  land,  if  he  possessed  any,  and  the  father  become 
only  a  life  tenant.  If  any  child,  of  any  age  above  infancy, 
declared  itself  a  Protestant,  it  was  ordered  placed  under 
Protestant  guardianship,  and  the  father  was  compelled  to 
pay  for  its  education  and  support.  If  the  wife  of  a  Cath- 
olic turned  Protestant,  she  could  claim  a  third  of  his  prop- 
erty and  separate  maintenance.  Catholics  were  prohibited 
from  being  guardians  of  their  own  children,  to  the  end  that, 
when  they  died,  the  helpless  ones  might  be  brought  up  as 

Catholics  were  debarred  from  buying  land,  or  taking  a 
freehold  lease  for  life,  or  a  for  a  longer  period  than  thirty- 
one  years.  No  Catholic  heir  to  a  former  owner  was  al- 
lowed to  accept  property  that  came  to  him  by  right  of 
lineal  descent,  or  by  process  of  bequest.  If  any  Protestant 
could  prove  that  the  profit  on  the  farm  of  a  Catholic  ex- 
ceeded one-third  of  the  rent  paid  by  the  latter,  the  informer 
"could  take  immediate  possession  of  the  land. 

We  have  already  alluded  to  the  measures  taken  to  ex- 
clude Catholics  from  civil  and  military  service,  by  opera- 
tion of  the  odious  test  oaths,  which  were  also  used  to  pre- 
vent them  from  entering  Parliament,  and  from  even  voting 
for  members  of  Parliament,  although  the  latter  had  to  be 
Protestants  in  order  to  be  eligible.  The  Irish  Dissenters — 

42O  The  People's  History  of  Ireland 

Presbyterians  and  others — were  also  subjected  to  the  test- 
oath  indignity,  which,  together  with  the  tyrannical  restric- 
tions on  trade,  imposed  by  the  English  and  servile  Irish 
Parliament,  drove  many  thousands  of  them  to  America. 
The  Irish  Presbyterians,  in  particular,  resented  the  "test" 
and  "schism"  acts,  and  refused  to  apply  to  Episcopal  bish- 
ops for  license  to  teach  in  schools;  or  to  receive  the  sacra- 
ment after  the  fashion  of  the  Church  of  England.  Rewards 
were  held  out  for  all  who  would  reveal  to  the  government 
the  names  of  Catholics,  or  others,  who  might  violate  the 
provisions  of  the  barbaric  laws  summarized  in  this  chapter. 
The  scale  of  the  rewards,  as  given  by  McGee  and  other 
authors,  is  a  curious  study.  Thus,  "for  discovering  an  arch- 
bishop, bishop,  vicar-general,  or  other  person  exercising 
any  foreign  ecclesiastical  jurisdiction,  £50;  for  discovering 
each  'regular'  clergyman  and  each  'secular'  clergyman,  not 
registered,  £20,  and  for  discovering  each  'Popish'  school- 
master, or  usher,  £10."  If  any  person  refused  to  give 
evidence  of  the  residence  of  any  proscribed  person,  he  was 
fined  £20,  or  else  had  to  go  to  prison  for  a  year.  Many 
noble-hearted  Protestants  who,  in  spite  of  penal  laws,  loved 
their  Catholic  fellow-countrymen,  suffered  pains  and  penal- 
ties, under  these  enactments,  and  became  objects  of  hatred 
to  the  more  malignant  section  of  their  co-religionists,  who 
were  after  the  Catholic  spoils.  Thus,  public  distrust  be- 
came epidemic,  and  the  infamous  "reward"  policy  begot, 
as  a  natural  result,  a  host  of  professional  informers,  whose 
shocking  avocation  was  mainly  exercised  in  the  spying  out 
of  the  places  of  concealment  of  proscribed  prelates  and 
priests,  and  who  are  still  remembered  in  Ireland  as  "priest- 
hunters."  These  malignants  also  directed  their  efforts  vig- 
orously against  the  teachers  of  "hedge-schools" — that  is  to 

The  People's  History  of  Ireland  421 

say,  schools  held  in  the  open  air,  generally  under  the  shelter 
of  a  tall  hedge,  or  on  the  edge  of  a  wood,  and  presided 
over  by  some  wandering  schoolmaster,  who  bravely  risked 
liberty,  and  often  life,  in  teaching  the  Catholic  youth  of 
Ireland  the  rudiments  of  education. 

There  existed  a  mean  "toleration"  of  Catholic  worship, 
in  parishes  whose  priests  were  "registered,"  according  to 
the  provisions  of  the  penal  code,  but,  in  parishes  where  the 
priests  were  not  registered,  and  they  were  numerous,  priests 
and  people,  who  wished  to  celebrate  and  assist  at  the  con- 
soling sacrifice  of  the  Mass,  had  to  retire  to  ocean  cave, 
or  mountain  summit,  or  rocky  gorge,  in  order  to  guard 
against  surprise  and  massacre.  The  English  government 
of  the  day  did  not  scruple  to  lend  its  soldiers  to  the  priest- 
hunters,  to  enable  the  latter  to  more  effectively  accomplish 
their  odious  mission;  just  as  in  our  day  it  has  lent  the 
military  to  the  sheriffs  to  carry  out  those  cruel  evictions 
which  the  late  Mr.  Gladstone  called  "sentences  of  death." 
It  was  the  custom  to  place  sentinels  around  the  places  where 
Mass  was  being  celebrated,  but,  despite  of  this  precaution, 
the  human  sleuthhounds  occasionally  crept  unobserved 
upon  their  unarmed  victims — for  then,  as  now,  the  Irish 
were  systematically  disarmed — and  often  slew  priest  and 
people  at  the  rude  altar  stones,  called  still  by  the  peasantry 
"Mass  rocks." 

So  great  was  the  enforced  exodus  of  priests  from  Ireland, 
at  this  awful  period  of  its  history,  that,  says  McGee,  "in 
Rome  72,000  francs  annually  were  allotted  for  the  main- 
tenance of  the  fugitive  Irish  clergy,  and,  during  the  first 
three  months  of  1699,  three  remittances  from  the  Holy 
Father,  amounting  to  90,000  livres,  were  placed  in  the 
hands  of  the  Nuncio  at  Paris  for  the  temporary  relief  of 

422  The  People's  History  of  Ireland 

the  fugitives  in  France  and  Flanders.  It  may  also  be  added 
here  that,  till  the  end  of  the  eighteenth  century,  an  annual 
charge  of  1,000  crowns  was  borne  by  the  Papal  treasury 
for  the  encouragement  of  Catholic  poor  schools  in  Ireland." 

Of  the  penal  code  which  produced  this  dreadful  condi- 
tion of  affairs,  in  and  out  of  Ireland,  Dr.  Samuel  Johnson, 
the  great  English  scholar  and  philosopher,  said,  "They  are 
more  grievous  than  all  the  Ten  Pagan  persecutions  of  the 

Edmund  Burke,  the  illustrious  Irish  statesman,  who 
passed  most  of  his  career  in  the  British  Parliament,  and 
was,  of  course,  a  Protestant,  or  he  could  not  have  sat  there, 
denounced  them,  substantially,  as  the  most  diabolical  en- 
gine of  oppression  and  demoralization  ever  used  against  a 
people  or  ever  devised  by  "the  perverted  ingenuity  of  man." 

And  the  Protestant  and  English  histori?n,  Godkin,  who 
compiled  Cassell's  "History  of  Ireland,"  for  English  read- 
ers, says  of  the  penal  laws:  "The  eighteenth  century  was 
the  era  of  persecution  in  which  the  law  did  the  work  of  the 
sword,  more  effectually  and  more  safely.  There  was  es- 
tablished a  code  framed  with  almost  diabolical  ingenuity, 
to  extinguish  natural  affection,  to  foster  perfidy  and  hypoc- 
risy, to  petrify  conscience,  to  perpetuate  brutal  ignorance, 
to  facilitate  the  work  of  tyranny,  by  rendering  the  vices  of 
slavery  inherent  and  natural  in  the  Irish  character,  and  to 
make  Protestantism  almost  irredeemably  odious  as  the 
monstrous  incarnation  of  all  moral  perversions."  This 
honest  Englishman  grows  indignant  when  he  says,  in  con- 
tinuation, "Too  well  did  it  accomplish  its  deadly  work  on 
the  intellects,  morals,  and  physical  condition  of  a  people, 
sinking  in  degeneracy  from  age  to  age,  till  all  manly  spirit, 
all  virtuous  sense  of  personal  independence  and  responsibil- 

The  People's  History  of  Ireland  423 

ity,  was  nearly  extinct,  and  the  very  features,  vacant,  timid, 
curyiing,  and  unreflective,  betrayed  the  crouching  slave 
within  ....  Having  no  rights  or  franchises,  no  legal  pro- 
tection of  life  and  property,  disqualified  to  handle  a  gun, 
even  as  a  common  soldier  or  a  gamekeeper,  forbidden  to 
acquire  the  elements  of  knowledge  at  home  or  abroad,  for- 
bidden even  to  render  to  God  what  conscience  dictated  as 
His  due,  what  could  the  Irish  be  but  abject  serfs?  What 
nation  in  their  circumstances  could  have  been  otherwise? 
Is  it  not  amazing  that  any  social  virtue  could  have  survived 
such  an  ordeal  ? — that  any  seeds  of  good,  any  roots  of  na- 
tional greatness,  could  have  outlived  such  a  long  and  tem- 
pestuous winter?" 

But  the  seeds  of  good,  although  chilled,  did  not  decay, 
and  the  manly  spirit  of  the  Old  Irish  race — the  Celto-Nor- 
man  stock,  with  the  former  element  in  preponderance — 
survived  all  its  persecutions,  and 

" — Exiled  in  those  penal  days, 
Its  banners  over  Europe  blaze !" 

The  great  American  orator  and  philanthropist,  Wendell 
Phillips,  lecturing  on  Ireland,  and  alluding  to  the  enforced 
ignorance  of  a  former  period,  said :  "When  the  old-time 
ignorance  of  the  Catholic  Irish  people  is  reproachfully  al- 
luded to  by  the  thoughtless,  or  illiberal,  it  is  not  Ireland 
but  England  that  should  bow  her  head  in  the  dust  and  put 
on  sackcloth  and  ashes  \n 

Ireland— 19  Vol.  I. 

424-  The  People's  History  of  Ireland 


Restrictions  on  Irish  Trade  and  Manufactures — All  Creeds  Suffer—- 
Presbyterian Exodus  to  America — Death  of  Royal  Personages 
— Accession  of  George  I 

SINCE  the  days  of  Charles  II,  and  probably  before  his 
reign,  a  contemptible  jealousy  of  the  growth  of  Irish 
commerce  had  taken  possession  of  the  commercial  element 
in  England.  We  have  already  said  something  about  the 
crushing  of  the  Irish  cattle  trade,  while  yet  the  "Merry  Mon- 
arch" was  on  the  throne ;  but  a  far  deadlier  blow  was  struck 
at  Irish  prosperity  when,  in  1698,  the  English  manufactur- 
ers had  the  assurance  to  petition  Parliament  against  the  Irish 
woolen  industry — then  among  the  most  prosperous  in  Eu- 
rope. This  petition  was  strongly  indorsed  by  the  English 
House  of  Lords,  in  an  address  to  King  William,  wherein 
they,  unconsciously,  perhaps,  paid  a  high  tribute  to  Irish 
manufacturing  genius.  They  virtually  admitted  that  the 
superiority  of  Irish  woolen  fabrics  made  the  English  trad- 
ers apprehensive  that  the  farther  growth  of  the  Irish  woolen 
industry  "might  greatly  prejudice  the  said  manufacture  in 
his  Majesty's  Kingdom  of  England."  Not  content  with 
this  display  of  mean  selfishness,  the  English  fisheries'  inter- 
est protested  against  Irish  fishermen  catching  herrings  on 
the  eastern  coast  of  their  own  island,  "thereby  coming  into 
competition  with  them  [the  English]."  The  Colonial  Par- 
liament of  Ireland  basely  yielded  to  English  coercion,  and, 
in  1699,  actually  stabbed  the  industries  of  their  own  country 
in  the  back,  by  placing  ruinous  export  duties  on  fine  Irish 
woolens,  friezes,  and  flannels!  And  this  hostile  legislation 
was  aimed,  not  against  the  Catholic  Irish,  who  had  no  in- 

The  People's  History  of  Ireland  425 

dustries,  but  against  the  Protestant  Irish,  who  possessed 
all  of  them! 

The  English  Parliament,  thus  secured  against  effective 
opposition,  immediately  passed  an  act  whereby  the  Irish 
people  were  forbidden  to  export  either  the  raw  material 
for  making  woolen  goods,  or  the  goods  themselves,  to  any 
foreign  port,  except  a  few  English  ports,  and  only  six  of 
the  numerous  Irish  seaports  were  allowed  even  this  poor 
privilege.  The  natural  result  followed.  Irish  prices  went 
up  in  England,  and,  in  spite  of  the  acknowledged  excellence 
of  Irish  manufactures,  the  English  people  would  not  pur- 
chase them  at  an  advanced  cost.  The  Irish  traders  could 
not  afford  to  sell  them  at  a  moderate  price,  and,  within  a 
few  years,  most  of  the  latter  were  absolutely  ruined.  Dr. 
P.  W.  Joyce,  in  his  "History  of  Ireland,"  estimates  that 
"40,000  Irish  Protestants — all  prosperous  working  people 
— were  immediately  reduced  to  idleness  and  poverty — the 
Catholics,  of  course,  sharing  in  the  misery,  so  far  as  they 
were  employed,  and  20,000  Presbyterians  and  other  Non- 
conformists left  Ireland  for  New  England.  Then  began 
the  emigration,  from  want  of  employment,  that  continues 
to  this  day.  But  the  English  Parliament  professed  to  en- 
courage the  Irish  linen  trade,  for  this  could  do  no  harm  to 
English  traders,  as  flax  growing  and  linen  manufacture  had 
not  taken  much  hold  in  England." 

This,  according  to  Dr.  Joyce,  was  the  beginning  of 
that  smuggling  trade  with  France  which  Ireland  carried  on 
for  more  than  a  century,  and  a  close  acquaintance,  there- 
fore, sprang  up  between  the  French  and  Irish  traders  and 
sailors.  Ireland  could  sell  her  surplus  wool  to  great  advan- 
tage in  France,  and  received  from  that  country  many  lux- 
uries, which,  otherwise,  she  could  not  have  enjoyed.  French 

426  The  People's  History  of  Ireland 

wines  became  common  at  Irish  tables,  above  those  of  the 
working-class,  and  French  silks  decorated  the  fair  persons  of 
Irish  maids  and  matrons.  Moreover,  this  adventurous  trade 
developed  a  hardy  race  of  Irish  sailors,  and,  by  means  of  the 
Irish  smugglers  and  their  French  copartners,  the  Irish 
priests  found  a  convenient  avenue  of  transit  to  and  from  the 
Continent;  and  brave  young  Irish  spirits,  registered  as 
"Wild  Geese,"  found  their  way  to  the  ranks  of  "the  bold 
Brigade,"  whose  fame  was  then  a  household  word  in  Eu- 
rope. But  the  Irish  masses,  both  Catholic  and  Noncon- 
formist, were  reduced  to  abject  poverty,  and  each  succeed- 
ing year  brought  fresh  commercial  restrictions,  until,  finally, 
almost  every  Irish  industry,  except  the  linen,  was  totally 
extirpated  in  the  island.  The  smuggling  trade,  alone,  kept 
some  vitality  in  the  commercial  veins  of  the  ruined  coun- 
try, and,  in  defiance  of  English  and  Anglo-Irish  enactments 
against  it,  it  continued  to  flourish  down  to  the  beginning  of 
the  nineteenth  century. 

Well-meaning  foreign  writers,  who  did  not  make  a  study 
of  Anglo-Irish  relations  in  the  sixteenth,  seventeenth,  and 
eighteenth  centuries,  have  expressed  astonishment  at  the 
paucity  of  Irish  industries,  outside  of  linen,  and  have  as- 
cribed it  to  Irish  non-adaptability  to  manufacturing  pur- 
suits! Not  alone  did  England  compel  Ireland  to  fine  her 
own  traders,  by  levying  export  duties  on  their  output,  but 
she  also,  as  we  have  seen,  by  her  own  Parliament,  limited 
such  exports  to  the  meanest  possible  proportions !  Of  course, 
at  this  slavish  period  of  the  old  so-called  Irish  Parliament, 
duties  to  limit  the  importation  of  English  goods  and  to 
foster  home  industries  were  not  allowed.  Ireland  was 
stripped  of  everything  but  linen  and  "homespun,"  and  then 
left  a  beggar.  This  is  a  most  disgraceful  chapter  in  the 

The  People's  History  of  Ireland  427 

history  of  the  political  connection  of  Great  Britain  and  Ire- 
land— one  that  led  to  untold  bitterness,  and  that  caused  the 
great  orator,  Grattan,  in  after  years  to  exclaim,  prophetical- 
ly, in  the  Irish  House  of  Commons :  "What  England  tram- 
ples on  in  Ireland  will  rise  to  sting  her  in  America !"  He 
alluded  to  the  Presbyterian  and  Catholic  exodus,  which  so 
materially  aided  the  American  Revolution. 

The  last  hope  of  King  James  again  attaining  the  throne 
of  the  "Three  Kingdoms"  disappeared  with  the  terrible  de- 
feat inflicted  on  the  French  fleet  at  the  battle  of  La  Hogue, 
1692,  and,  thereafter,  his  life  was  passed  sadly — for  he  had 
ample  time  to  ruminate  on  his  misfortunes — at  St.  Germain, 
until  he  died,  in  1701.  His  rival,  William  III,  whose  wife, 
Queen  Mary  II,  had  preceded  him  to  the  grave,  died  from 
the  effects  of  a  horseback  accident,  in  March,  1702.  He 
was  immediately  succeeded  by  Queen  Anne,  the  last  of  the 
Stuart  line  who  occupied  the  throne  of  England.  Her  reign 
was  one  of  glory  for  Great  Britain  and  one  of  hate  and  hor- 
ror for  Ireland.  We  have  already  mentioned  some  of  the 
penal  laws  passed  while  she  held  sway.  Her  ministers,  of 
course,  were  responsible  for  her  acts,  because  she  herself 
possessed  only  moderate  ability.  Unlike  most  of  the  Stuart 
family,  she  swam  with  the  current,  and  so  got  along  smooth- 
ly with  her  English  subjects.  The  most  important  domestic 
event  of  her  reign  was  the  legislative  union  of  England  with 
Scotland — which  virtually  extinguished  Scotland  as  a  nation. 
This  event  occurred  in  May,  1707,  and  was  accompanied  by 
acts  of  the  most  shameless  political  profligacy  on  the  part 
of  the  English  minister  and  the  Scotch  lords  and  commons. 
In  fact,  the  independence  of  Scotland,  like  that  of  Ireland 
ninety-three  years  later,  was  sold  for  titles,  offices,  pensions, 
and  cold  cash.  The  masses  of  the  people,  to  do  them  justice, 

428  The  People's  History  of  Ireland 

had  little  to  do  with  this  nefarious  transaction,  which  was 
subsequently  satirized  by  the  gicat  Scottish  poet,  Robert 
Burns,  in  his  lyric,  one  verse  of  which  runs  thus: 

"What  English  force  could  not  subdue 

Through  many  warlike  ages, 
Is  sold  now  by  a  craven  few 

For  hireling  traitors'  wages! 
The  English  steel  we  could  disdain — • 

Secure  in  valor's  station — 
But  English  gold  has  been  our  bane — • 

Such  a  parcel  of  rogues  in  a  nation !" 

The  deeds  in  arms  of  Anne's  great  general,  Marlborough, 
who  was  a  traitor  to  both  King  James  and  King  William, 
have  been  partially  related  in  the  chapters  bearing  on  the 
career  of  the  Franco-Irish  Brigade  and  need  no  farther  men- 
tion in  this  history. 

In  the  days  of  William  III  appeared  a  pamphlet  called 
"The  Case  of  Ireland  Stated,"  which  was  written  by  Wil- 
liam Molyneux,  a  member  of  Parliament,  for  the  Dublin 
University.  It  appeared  in  1698,  and  made,  at  once,  a 
powerful  impression  on  the  public  mind.  It,  in  brief,  took 
the  ground  that  Ireland — that  is,  Protestant,  colonial  Ire- 
land— was,  of  right,  a  separate  and  independent  kingdom; 
that  England's  original  title  of  conquest,  if  she  had  any,  was 
abrogated  by  charters  granted  to  Ireland  from  time  to  time, 
and,  finally,  denied  that  the  king  and  Parliament  of  England 
had  power  to  bind  the  kingdom  and  people  of  Ireland  by 
English-made  laws.  The  English  Parliament  was,  of  course, 
greatly  shocked  and  scandalized  at  the  idea  of  a  "mere  Irish- 
man" putting  forth  such  theories,  and  solemnly  ordered  his 
book  to  be  burned,  publicly,  by  "the  common  hangman" — 
a  functionary  always  in  high  favor  when  Ireland  needs  to 
be  "disciplined."  The  book  was  burned  accordingly,  but 
its  spirit  did  not  die  then,  nor  is  it  yet  dead,  or  likely  to  die, 

The  People's  History  of  Ireland  429 

while  Ireland  contains  a  population.  King  William,  in  re- 
plying to  the  English  Parliament's  address  on  the  subject  of 
Molyneux's  utterance,  assured  its  members  that  "he  would 
enforce  the  laws  securing  the  dependence  of  Ireland  on  the 
imperial  crown  of  Great  Britain." 

In  the  chapter  on  the  penal  laws,  many  of  the  enactments 
of  the  reign  of  Anne  have  been  summarized.  Her  sway 
was  a  moral  nightmare  over  Ireland,  and  it  is  a  remarkable 
historical  coincidence  that  the  Green  Isle  suffered  more,  ma- 
terially and  morally,  under  the  English  female  than  the  male 
sovereigns.  Under  Elizabeth  and  Anne,  the  Irish  Catholics 
were  persecuted  beyond  belief.  Under  Victoria's  rule,  which 
the  British  statistician,  Mulhall,  has  called  "the  deadliest 
since  Elizabeth,"  they  starved  to  death  by  the  hundred  thou- 
sand or  emigrated  by  the  million. 

The  regime  of  Queen  Anne,  like  that  of  her  predecessors 
and  successors  on  the  throne,  gave  the  government  of  Ire- 
land into  the  hands  of  Englishmen,  who  held  all  the  impor- 
tant offices,  from  the  viceroyalty  downward,  and  who  chose 
their  sub-officers  from  among  the  least  national  element  of 
the  Irish  people.  This  system,  although  somewhat  modified, 
continues  to  the  present  day.  In  the  Irish  Parliament,  there 
was  an  occasional  faint  display  of  sectarian  nationality,  but 
it  proved  of  little  advantage  when  the  English  wanted  mat- 
ters in  that  body  to  go  as  they  wished.  Ireland  then,  as 
a  majority  ruled  by  a  minority,  "stood  on  her  smaller  end," 
and  so  it  is  even  in  our  own  times,  notwithstanding  occa- 
sional "concessions"  and  "ameliorations." 

But,  from  the  day  when  the  pamphlet,  or  book,  of  Moly- 
neux  saw  the  light,  a  Patriot  party  began  to  grow  up  in  the 
Irish  Parliament.  The  old  Irish  nation  had,  indeed,  dis- 
appeared, for  a  period,  but  the  new  one  soon  began  to  mani- 

430  The  People's  History  of  Ireland 

fest  a  spirit  that  roused  the  bitter  hatred  of  England.  Such 
infatuated  Irish  Protestants  as  still  believed  that  they  would 
be  more  gently  treated  on  account  of  common  creed  with 
the  stronger  people  were  soon  bitterly  undeceived. 

The  death  of  Queen  Anne,  all  of  whose  children  by  the 
Prince  of  Denmark  had  died  before  her,  occurred  in  July, 
1714.  It  is  said  that  she  secretly  favored  the  succession  of 
her  half-brother,  acknowledged  by  Louis  XIV,  and  the  Jaco- 
bite party  in  Great  Britain,  as  James  III  of  that  realm,  but 
the  last  Duke  of  Ormond,  the  Earl  of  Orrery,  Bishop  Atter- 
bury,  and  Lord  Bolingbroke,  the  Jacobite  leaders  in  Eng- 
land, lost  their  nerve  after  the  Queen's  death  and  allowed 
the  golden  opportunity  of  proclaiming  the  exiled  Stuart 
king  to  pass  away.  The  Hanoverian  faction,  which  called 
James  "the  Pretender,"  took  advantage  of  their  vacillation 
to  proclaim  the  Elector  of  Hanover,  who  derived  his  claim 
from  the  Act  of  Succession  or  Settlement  (which  ignored 
the  Stuart  male  line,  or  any  of  its  Catholic  collateral 
branches,  and  excluded  them  from  the  throne),  under  the 
title  of  George  I.  He  derived  his  claim,  such  as  it  was, 
from  James  I,  whose  daughter,  the  Princess  Elizabeth,  had 
married  the  King  of  Bohemia.  Her  daughter,  Sophia,  mar- 
ried the  Elector  of  Hanover  and  became  mother  of  King 
George,  who  was  a  thorough  German  in  speech,  manner, 
and  habit,  although  not  in  person  or  in  manly  charac- 
teristics. But  he  was  a  Protestant,  and  that  sufficed  for 
England.  On  August  I,  1714,  he  was  proclaimed  in 
London  and  Edinburgh,  and  on  the  8th  of  that  month 
in  Dublin.  The  Scotch  Jacobites  ridiculed  his  accession 
in  a  racy  "skit,"  which  began  with — 

"Oh,  wha  the  deil  hae  we  got  for  a  king 
But  a  wee,  wee  German  lairdie!" 

The  People's  History  of  Ireland  431 

Ireland,  broken  in  spirit  and  disgusted  by  the  memory  of 
King  James  II,  remained  quiescent,  but,  in  1715,  Scotland 
and  a  portion  of  the  north  of  England  rose  in  rebellion, 
the  former  under  the  Earl  of  Mar  and  the  latter  under  young 
Lord  Derwentwater.  They  were  not  heartily  supported. 
Both  met  with  defeat,  and  Derwentwater,  together  with  sev- 
eral English  and  Scotch  adherents  of  note,  was  captured, 
beheaded,  and  had  his  estates  confiscated  to  the  "crown." 
The  English  Parliament  offered  a  reward  of  £50,000  ($250,- 
ooo)  for  the  "apprehension"  of  "the  Pretender,"  who  had 
been  previously  "attainted,"  but  there  were  no  takers,  "the 
Pretender"  aforesaid  being  safely  housed  in  Paris.  This 
bloody  episode  ended  Jacobite  "risings"  in  Great  Britain  for 
a  generation. 


Further    Commercial    Restrictions — Continued    Exodus    of    Working 

People — Jonathan  Swift — "The  Patriot  Party" — Tyranny 

of  Primate  Boulter 

O  EEING  that  Ireland  had  taken  no  part  in  the  attempted 
<-)  Stuart  revolution  at  the  beginning  of  his  reign,  it  might 
be  imagined  that  George  I  showed  some  favor  to  the  Irish 
people,  but  he  did  nothing"  of  the  kind.  On  the  contrary, 
the  penal  laws  were  enforced  with  greater  virulence  than 
ever,  and  several  new  enactments  of  a  most  oppressive  char- 
acter— chiefly  bearing  on  the  franchise — were  passed.  In 
1719,  the  Patriot  party  in  the  Irish  Parliament  threw  down 
a  challenge  to  English  supremacy.  The  Irish  House  of 
Lords  annulled,  on  appeal,  from  the  Dublin  Court  of  Ex- 
chequer, a  judgment  in  favor  of  one  Annesley  and  gave  it  to 
the  opposition  litigant,  Hester  Sherlock.  The  former  ap- 
pealed to  the  English  lords,  who  overrode  the  decision  of  the 

432  The  People's  History  of  Ireland 

Irish  House,  by  reversing  judgment  in  favor  of  Annesley. 
As  the  sheriff  in  whose  jurisdiction  (Kildare)  the  writ  ran 
refused  to  obey  the  English  decree,  he  was  heavily  fined. 
The  Irish  House  retaliated  by  remitting  the  fine,  applauding 
the  sheriff  and  arresting  the  judges  of  the  Dublin  court 
who  had  decided  for  Annesley.  The  anger  of  England  be- 
came boundless,  as  it  usually  does  when  Ireland  asserts  itself, 
and  the  English  Parliament,  without  color  of  right,  passed 
the  drastic  enactment,  known  as  the  6th  of  George  I,  which 
definitively  bound  Ireland  by  English  enactments,  and  took 
the  right  of  appeal  away  from  the  Irish  House  of  Peers. 
Thus  was  the  chain  begun  by  the  Poynings'  Law,  in  the 
reign  of  Henry  VII,  made  complete,  and,  at  one  fell  swoop, 
Ireland  was  reduced  to  a  provincial  status.  Thenceforth, 
until  1780,  the  Irish  Parliament  was  merely  a  machine  for 
registering  the  will  of  England,  in  the  matter  of  Irish  gov- 

At  the  same  time,  England  continued  her  war  on  the  few 
remaining  Irish  industries — nothing  seemed  to  satisfy  the 
jealousy  and  covetousness  of  her  merchants.  The  glaring 
outrages  committed  against  the  business  of  Ireland  aroused 
the  ire  of  the  famous  Jonathan  Swift,  Protestant  Dean  of 
St.  Patrick's,  who  was  the  son  of  an  Englishman.  He 
wrote,  anonymously,  several  bitter  pamphlets  against  the 
selfish  policy  of  England,  and  urged  the  Irish  people  to  use 
nothing  but  native  manufactures.  In  one  of  these  fulmina- 
tions,  he  used  the  memorable  phrase :  "Burn  everything  that 
comes  from  England,  except  the  coal!"  But  his  patriotic 
influence  rose  to  the  zenith  when  he  attacked  "Wood's  half- 
pence"— base  money  coined  to  meet  a  financial  emergency 
— in  1723.  His  philippics  became  known  as  the  "Drapier's 
letters"  from  the  signature  attached  to  them,  and,  in  the 

The  People's  History  of  Ireland  433 

end,  he  compelled  the  government  to  cancel  the  contract 
with  Wood.  England  foamed  with  rage,  and  had  the  printer 
of  the  letters  prosecuted.  However,  no  judge  or  jury  in 
Dublin  was  found  vile  enough  to  convict  him. 

Swift,  although  an  Irish  patriot,  was  a  Protestant  bigot, 
and  detested  the  Celtic  Catholics  quite  as  much  as  he  did  the 
English,  whom,  from  a  political  standpoint,  he  hated.  Yet, 
he  was  the  idol,  during  his  long  lifetime,  of  the  Catholics, 
because  he  had  stood  by  Ireland  against  the  common  enemy. 
This  brilliant  man,  whose  writings  have  made  him  immor- 
tal, and  whose  private  sorrows  can  not  be  estimated,  finally 
"withered  at  the  top,"  and  died  insane,  after  having  willed 
his  property  to  be  used  for  the  building  of  a  lunatic  asylum1. 
In  a  poem  written  some  time  before  his  sad  death,  he  alludes 
to  his  bequest  in  the  following  lines : 

"He  left  what  little  wealth  he  had 
To  build  a  house  for  fools  and  mad — 
To  show,  by  one  sarcastic  touch, 
No  nation  needed  one  so  much  I" 

No  writer  better  knew  how  to  enrage  the  English.  He 
took  a  savage  delight  in  tormenting  them,  wounding  their 
vanity,  and  exposing  their  weaknesses.  Neither  did  he 
spare  the  Irish ;  and,  as  for  the  Scotch,  he  rivaled  Dr.  Sam- 
uel Johnson  in  his  dislike  of  that  people.  In  our  day,  the 
average  summer-up  of  merits  and  demerits  would  describe 
Jonathan  Swift  as  "a  gifted  crank." 

Associated  with  him  in  the  moral  war  against  English 
interference  in  Ireland's  domestic  concerns  were  such  other 
shining  lights  of  the  period  as  Dr.  Sheridan,  ancestor  of 
Richard  Brinsley,  and  others  of  that  brilliant  "ilk";  Dr. 
Stopford,  the  able  Bishop  of  Cloyne,  and  Doctors  Jackson, 
Helsham,  Delaney,  and  Walmsley,  nearly  all  men  of  almost 

434  The  People's  History  of  Ireland 

pure  English  descent.  McGee  also  credits  "the  three  rever- 
end brothers  Grattan" — a  name  subsequently  destined  to 
immortality — with  good  work  in  the  same  connection. 

Whatever  the  private  faults  of  Swift,  Ireland  must  ever 
hold  his  memory  in  reverence,  with  those  of  many  other 
Irish  non-Catholic  patriots,  who,  although  they  had  little 
or  no  Celtic  blood  in  their  veins,  and  were  brought  up  under 
English  influences,  nobly  preferred  the  interests  of  their 
unfortunate  native  country  to  the  smiles  and  favors  of  her 
oppressors.  And  so  Ireland,  considering  these  things, 


" — The  men  of  patriot  pen, 

Swift,  Molyneux,  and  Lucas," 

as  fervently  as  if  they  belonged  to  the  race  of  the  Hy-Niall 
or  Kinel-Conal. 

Nor  must  it  be  supposed  that  the  Patriot  element,  led  by 
Swift,  escaped  persecution  at  the  hands  of  the  Protestant  oli-  - 
garchy,  although  they,  too,  were  of  the  Established  Church. 
Swift  himself  was  discriminated  against  all  his  life,  because 
of  his  advocacy  of  Irish  manufactures,  his  discrediting  of 
Wood's  "brass  money,"  and  his  defeat  of  the  mischievous 
national  bank  project,  which  was  germane  to  it.  As  diocese 
after  diocese  became  vacant  in  Ireland,  he  saw  dullards 
promoted  to  the  sees,  while  he  was  deliberately  overlooked, 
simply  because  he  had  advocated  justice  to  Ireland!  This 
injustice  afterward  passed  into  a  proverb.  Said  an  Irish 
orator,  in  after  years,  speaking  of  another  great  Irishman 
who  had  also  suffered  from  English  resentment:  "The 
curse  of  Swift  was  upon  him — to  have  been  born  an  Irish- 
man, to  have  been  blessed  with  talents,  and  to  have  used 
those  talents  for  the  benefit  of  his  country !" 

But  Swift  was  not  the  only  sufferer.     There  were  other 

The  People's  History  of  Ireland  435 

distinguished  offenders  against  English  sentiment.  It  is 
true  they  had  not  provoked  the  government  by  their  writ- 
ings to  offer  a  reward  of  £300  for  their  identity,  as  was 
Swift's  fortune,  but  they  had  done  enough  to  be  made  "hor- 
rible examples"  of.  Thus,  Right  Rev.  Dr.  Browne,  Prot- 
estant Bishop  of  Cork,  had  been  threatened  with  depriva- 
tion for  protesting  against  the  insulting  language  toward 
Catholics  contained  in  the  notorious  Orange  toast  to  the 
memory  of  William  III ;  and  Dr.  Sheridan  was  deprived  of 
his  "living"  in  Munster,  because,  says  McGee,  "he  accidental- 
ly chose  for  his  text  on  the  anniversary  of  King  George's 
coronation:  'Sufficient  for  the  day  is  the  evil  thereof!' 
Such,"  he  continues,  "was  the  intolerance  of  the  oligarchy 
toward  their  own  clergy.  What  must  it  have  been  to 
others !" 

About  this  period,  too,  the  differences  between  Episcopa- 
lians and  Nonconformists — the  latter  having  again  repu- 
diated the  test  oaths — became  more  bitter  than  ever.  Swift 
took  sides  against  the  Dissenters,  whom,  as  a  fierce  Church 
of  England  champion,  he  despised.  "They  were  glad,"  he 
said,  they  or  their  fathers,  "to  leave  their  barren  hills  of 
Lochaber  for  the  fruitful  vales  of  Down  and  Antrim."  He 
denied  to  them,  with  bitter  scorn,  the  title  they  had  assumed 
of  "Brother  Protestants,"  and  as  to  the  Papists  they  af- 
fected to  contemn,  they  were,  in  his  opinion,  "as  much  su- 
perior to  the  Dissenters  as  a  lion,  though  chained  and 
clipped  of  its  claws,  is  a  stronger  and  nobler  animal  than 
an  angry  cat,  at  liberty  to  fly  at  the  throats  of  true  church- 
men." Of  course,  the  Church  of  England  faction  triumphed 
and  the  exodus  of  the  Nonconformists  from  Ireland  re- 
ceived a  fresh  impetus.  "Outraged,"  says  McGee,  "in 
their  dearest  civil  and  religious  rights,  thousands  of  the 

436  The  People's  History  of  Ireland 

Scoto-Irish  of  Ulster,  and  the  Milesian  and  Anglo-Irish 
of  the  other  provinces,  preferred  to  encounter  the  perils 
of  the  wild  Atlantic  rather  than  abide  under  the  yoke  and 
lash  of  such  an  oligarchy.  In  the  year  1729,  five  thousand 
six  hundred  Irish  landed  at  the  single  port  of  Philadelphia ; 
in  the  next  ten  years  they  furnished  to  the  Carolinas  and 
Georgia  the  majority  of  their  immigrants;  before  the  end 
of  this  reign  [George  I]  several  thousands  of  heads  of  fam- 
ilies, all  bred  and  married  in  Ireland,  were  rearing  up  a 
free  posterity  along  the  slopes  of  the  Blue  Ridge  in  Vir- 
ginia and  Maryland,  and  even  as  far  north  as  the  valleys 
of  the  Hudson  and  the  Merrimac.  In  the  ranks  of  the 
thirteen  United  Colonies,  the  descendants  of  those  Irish 
Nonconformists  were  to  repeat,  for  the  benefit  of  George 
III,  the  lesson  and  example  their  ancestors  had  taught  to 
James  II  at  Inniskillen  and  Derry." 

We  do  not  purpose  entering  into  a  chronological  account 
of  the  several  viceroys — most  of  them  rather  obscure — 
who  represented  English  misgovernment  in  Ireland  during 
the  reigns  of  the  early  Georges.  They  simply  followed  out 
the  old  programme  of  oppression  and  repression  with  tire- 
some monotony.  No  matter  who  "held  court"  in  Dublin 
Castle,  the  policy  of  England  toward  Ireland  remained  un- 
changed. If  ever  there  came  a  lull  in  the.  course  of  system- 
atic persecution,  it  followed  immediately  on  some  reverse 
of  the  English  arms  on  the  Continent  of  Europe.  An  En- 
glish victory  meant  added  taxes  and  further  coercion  for 
the  Irish  Catholics  and  Dissenters. 

George  I  had  died  in  1727,  leaving  behind  him  an  un- 
savory moral  reputation,  and  regretted  by  nobody  in  Eng- 
land, except  his  Hanoverian  mistresses,  who  were  noted  for 
their  pinguid  ugliness.  He  was  succeeded  without  opposi- 

The  People's  History  of  Ireland  437 

tion  by  his  son,  who  mounted  the  throne  as  George  II.  He, 
too,  was  small  of  stature,  un-English  in  language  and  ap- 
pearance, and  inherited  the  vices  of  his  father.  He  was 
not  deficient  in  personal  bravery,  as  he  proved  at  Dettin- 
gen,  and  elsewhere,  in  after  times,  and  he  had  the  distinc- 
tion of  being  the  last  k'ng  of  England  who  appeared  upon 
a  field  of  battle. 

The  penal  code  was  continued  in  full  force  during  most 
of  thi.°  r*;~:*,  although  it  had  lost  favor  among  the  English 
go  erning  class  in  the  time  of  the  king's  father,  when  the 
Protestant  Ascendency  party  in  the  Irish  Commons  brazenly 
proposed  to  the  English  Privy  Council  the  passage  of  an 
act  whereby  a  proscribed  prelate  or  priest  arrested  in  Ire- 
land would  be  made  to  suffer  indecent  mutilation.  Bad  as 
the  English  privy  councilors  generally  were,  where  Ireland 
was  concerned,  they  would  not  stomach  such  revolting  sav- 
agery, and  the  hideous  proposition  was  heard  of  no  more. 
And  yet  England,  knowing  the  ferocious  character  of  the 
fanatics  who  proposed  it,  left  Ireland  virtually  helpless  in 
their  hands!  She  could  have,  at  any  time,  put  an  end  to 
the  intolerable  persecutions  visited  upon  the  masses  of  the 
people  by  a  heartless  oligarchy,  actuated  about  equally  by 
cupidity  and  fierce  intolerance.  Had  she  done  so,  she  might 
have  won  the  Irish  heart,  as  France  won  that  of  German 
Alsace  and  Italian  Corsica,  but  she  preferred  to  use  one 
section  of  the  Irish  people  against  the  other,  in  her  lust  of 
empire,  and  "Divide  and  Conquer"  became,  as  in  the  Eliza- 
bethan times,  the  pith  of  her  Irish  policy. 

The  great  English  minister,  Sir  Robert  Walpole,  im- 
pressed by  the  necessity  of  breaking  down  the  spirit  of  inde- 
pendence evoked  by  Swift  and  his  able  and  patriotic  col- 
leagues, who  had  indeed  "breathed  a  new  soul"  into  the 

438  The  People's  History  of  Ireland 

Ireland  of  their  day,  appointed  that  inveterate  politician 
and  corrupt  diplomat,  Lord  Carteret,  viceroy.  He  also  pro- 
moted the  Right  Rev.  Hugh  Boulter,  Bishop  of  Bristol, 
also  an  Englishman  of  the  virulent  type,  to  the  Arch- 
bishopric of  Armagh — the  primal  see  of  Ireland.  Boulter 
was  Castlereagh's  precursor  in  policy.  Possessed  of  high 
office  and  vast  wealth,  he  did  not  hesitate  to  use  both  pres- 
tige and  money  in  the  interests  of  England,  and  his  cor- 
ruption of  many  members  of  the  Irish  Parliament  was  so 
open  and  flagrant  as  to  scandalize  even  the  brazen  chiefs 
of  the  atrocious  "Court  party" — the  Praetorean  guard  of 
Lord  Carteret.  This  unscrupulous  churchman  was  the  vir- 
tual head  of  the  English  interest  in  Ireland  for  eighteen 
years,  and,  within  that  period,  overshadowing  even  vice- 
regal authority,  he  made  the  English  name  more  hated 
among  not  alone  the  Celtic,  but  the  Scoto  and  Anglo-Irish 
than  it  had  been  for  a  century.  He  was  the  greatest  per- 
secutor of  the  Catholics  that  had  appeared  since  the  period 
of  Cromwell,  and  he  it  was  who  manipulated  the  machinery 
of  Parliament  to  deprive  them  of  the  last  vestige  of  their 
civil  and  religious  liberty  in  the  closing  days  of  the  brutal 
reign,  in  Ireland,  of  George  I.  Nor  did  the  Presbyterians 
and  other  dissenters  fare  much  better  at  his  hands.  His 
black  career  terminated  in  1742,  and  a  weight  of  horror 
was  lifted  from  Ireland's  heart  when  the  welcome  news  of 
his  death  spread  rapidly,  far  and  wide,  over  the  persecuted 

What  made  "Primate  Boulter"  particularly  odious  to  the 
Catholic  people  of  Ireland  was  his  institution  of  the  "Char- 
ter Schools" — used  openly  and  insultingly  for  the  perver- 
sion of  the  majority  of  the  population  from  the  Roman 
Catholic  faith.  Since  that  period,  English  politicians  have 

The  People's  History  of  Ireland  439 

not  hesitated  to  use  the  influence  of  the  Roman  See,  with 
more  or  less  success,  to  curb  political  movements  in  Ire- 
land. Even  then,  when  England  was  enforcing  the  penal 
laws  against  the  Irish  Catholics  with  fire  and  sword,  she 
was  the  ally  of  Catholic  Austria  against  the  French,  and 
glibly  advocated  toleration  for  the  Protestants  of  the  Haps- 
burg  empire,  while  her  "priest-hunters"  industriously  earned 
their  putrid  "blood  money"  in  unfortunate,  Catholic  Ire- 
land. We  may  say,  in  passing,  that  Primate  Boulter  was 
succeeded  in  the  primacy  by  another  Englishman,  Right 
Rev.  George  Stone,  who  proved  himself  worthy  of  his 


Official   Extravagance — Charles  Lucas,  Leader  of  Irish  Opposition 

— Chesterfield  Viceroy — His  Recall — Dorset's  Vile 


AN  attempt  made  in  1729  to  place  an  extortionate  es- 
timate on  the  public  expenses,  and  which  emanated 
from  "the  Castle  of  Dublin,"  had  the  effect  of  consolidating 
the  Irish  opposition  in  Parliament.  These  legislators  pro- 
tested in  a  dignified  manner  against  extravagance  in  public 
expenditure.  Under  the  administration  of  the  Duke  of 
Devonshire,  in  1737,  they  set  their  faces  against  his  method 
of  corrupting  the  public  conscience  by  a  display  of  lavish 
generosity,  which  is  always  popular  in  a  capital  where  trade 
depends  to  a  great  extent  on  courtly  favor.  The  leaders 
in  the  House  of  Commons  were  Sir  Edward  O'Brien,  of 
the  House  of  Inchiquin;  his  son,  Sir  Lucius;  the  Speaker, 
Henry  Boyle,  and  Mr.  Anthony  Malone,  whose  father  had 
been  an  efficient  ally  of  Sir  Toby  Butler,  in  defending  Cath- 
olic rights  under  the  articles  of  Limerick. 

44°  The  People's  History  of  Ireland 

These  gentlemen  were  ably  assisted  by  Dr.  Charles  Lucas, 
who,  although  not  a  member  of  the  House,  possessed  a  vast 
outside  influence,  because  of  his  great  talent  and  moral 
worth.  The  doctor  was  also  a  druggist  by  profession,  but 
could  use  a  virile  pen  even  better  than  he  could  a  pestle  and 
mortar.  In  1741,  he  began  hammering  the  government  in 
public  prints,  on  the  lines  of  Molyneux  and  Swift,  and  with 
almost  as  great  success.  But  "the  Castle"  censor  came 
down  upon  him,  and  he  was  compelled  to  leave  Ireland  for 
a  period.  Like  Swift,  he  was  rather  antagonistic  to  Cath- 
olic claims,  but,  as  in  the  case  of  the  great  Dean,  the  Cath- 
olics forgave  him  because  he  was  true  to  Ireland.  After 
some  years  of  exile,  he  returned  to  Dublin,  was  elected  to 
Parliament,  and  became  a  leader  of  the  Patriots  in  the 
House  of  Commons.  In  the  House  of  Lords,  the  Earl  of 
Kildare,  afterward  first  Duke  of  Leinster,  was  the  Patriot 

The  famous  Earl  of  Chesterfield  became  Viceroy  of  Ire- 
land in  1745,  and  showed,  from  the  first,  a  thorough  dis- 
gust for  the  penal  laws  and  the  oligarchs  who  supported 
them.  He  connived  at  Catholic  toleration  to  such  an  extent 
that  he  became  an  object  of  suspicion,  if  not  of  hatred,  to 
the  Ascendency  faction.  The  government  of  England,  with 
habitual  cunning,  had  selected  this  finished  courtier  to  rule 
in  Ireland,  because  of  disquieting  rumors  of  an  invasion  of 
Great  Britain  contemplated  by  Charles  Edward  Stuart,  son 
of  "the  Pretender,"  James  III.  Also,  about  the  same  time, 
came  the  stirring  news  of  the  victory  oi  the  Irish  Brigade, 
in  alliance  with  the  French,  over  the  Duke  of  Cumber- 
land's column  at  glorious  Fontenoy.  "Accursed,"  old 
George  II  is  said  to  have  exclaimed,  on  being  told  of  the 
Franco-Irish  victory,  "accursed  be  the  laws  that  deprive 

The  People's  History  of  Ireland  441 

me  of  such  soldiers!"  But  Chesterfield  was,  in  reality, 
friendly  to  the  Irish,  He  liked  their  wit  and  esprit  and 
took  no  pains  to  conceal  the  fact,  greatly  to  the  disgust  of 
the  Ascendency  clique.  But  Charles  Edward's  attempt  to 
recover  the  British  crown  utterly  failed.  Highland  Scot- 
land fought  for  him  heroically.  The  Jacobites  of  England 
held,  for  the  most  part,  aloof,  and,  beyond  the  officers  of 
the  Irish  Brigade,  who  went  with  him  from  France,  Ireland 
hardly  furnished  a  man  to  aid  his  hardy  and  romantic  en- 
terprise— thus  showing  how  completely  her  spirit  was  sub- 
dued during  that  momentous  crisis.  Charles  Edward  was 
a  leader  that,  in  the  preceding  century,  the  Irish  would  have 
been  proud  to  follow.  He  was  a  great  improvement  on 
both  his  sire  and  grandsire,  although  he  ended  miserably, 
in  his  old  age,  a  career  begun  so  gloriously  in  his  youth. 

Chesterfield  remained  only  eight  months  in  his  Irish  office. 
He  was  recalled  within  ten  days  after  the  battle  of  Culloden. 
There  was  no  further  need,  for  the  time  being,  to  conciliate 
the  Irish.  The  heir  of  the  unhappy  Stuarts  was  a  houseless 
wanderer  in  the  land  over  which  his  forefathers  had  reigned 
for  centuries  and  their  cause  was  hopelessly  lost.  The  Earl 
and  Countess  of  Chesterfield,  on  their  departure  from  Dub- 
lin, received  "a  popular  ovation."  They  walked  on  foot, 
arm  in  arm,  from  the  viceregal  residence  to  the  wharf,  where 
lay  the  vessel  that  was  to  bear  them  back  to  England,  and 
the  warm-hearted,  "too  easily  deluded  people"  prayed  loud 
and  fervently  for  their  speedy  return.  They  came  back  no 
more,  but  Chesterfield  was  enabled  to  assure  George  II,  when 
he  reached  London,  that  the  only  "dangerous  Papist"  he 
had  seen  in  Ireland  was  the  lovely  Miss  Ambrose,  afterward 
Mrs.  Palmer,  Dublin's  reigning  beauty  of  the  period.  Ches- 
terfield made  much  of  her  at  "the  Castle,"  and  laughed  po- 

The  People's   History  of  Ireland 

litely  at  the  bigots  who  looked  upon  her  as  a  species  of  De- 
lilah. As  Miss  Ambrose  enjoyed,  also,  the  friendship  of 
Lady  Chesterfield,  her  enemies  could  evoke  no  scandal  from 
the  platonic  intimacy.  The  earl's  mild,  insinuating  system  of 
government  had  enabled  him  to  spare  four  regiments  from 
Ireland  for  service  in  Scotland,  during  the  Jacobite  insur- 
rection. His  "Principles  of  Politeness,"  practically  applied, 
were  much  more  effective  in  the  cause  of  the  House  of  Han- 
over than  all  the  repressive  enactments  of  the  vicious  bigots 
of  the  party  of  Ascendency. 

The  last  Jacobite  expedition  was  organized  in  France,  in 

1759,  and  was  under  orders  of  an  admiral  named  Con- 
flans,  who,  when  a  short  distance  out  from  Brest,  was  en- 
countered by  an  English  fleet  under  Admiral  Hawke  and 
totally  defeated.    A  wing  of  this  expedition,  under  Commo- 
dore Thurot,  whose  real  name  was  O'Farrell,  did  not  arrive 
in  time  to  take  part  in  the  battle,  but  succeeded  in  entering 
the  British  Channel  without  interruption.     A  storm  arose 
which  drove  Thurot's  five  frigates  to  seek  shelter  in  Norway 
and  the  Orkney  Islands,  where  they  wintered.    In  the  spring, 
one  frigate  made  its  way  back  to  France.     Another  sailed 
with  a  similar  object,  but  was  never  heard  from  afterward. 
The  remaining  three,   under  Thurot,   made  for  the  Irish 
coast  and  entered  Lough  Foyle,  but  made  no  attempt  on 
Londonderry.     They  soon  headed  for  Belfast  Lough,  and 
appeared  before  Carrickfergus  about  the  end  of  February, 

1760.  Thurot  demanded  the  surrender  of  the  place,  which 
was  stoutly  refused  by  the  military  governor,  Colonel  Jen- 
nings.   The  Franco-Irish  sailor  immediately  landed  his  fight- 
ing men  and  took  the  town  by  a  rapid  and  furious  assault. 
Then  he  levied  on  the  place  for  supplies  and  again  put  to 
sea.     Off  the  Isle  of  Man  he  fell  in  with  three  newly  com- 

The  People's  History  of  Ireland  443 

missioned  ships  of  war  under  the  English  Commodore, 
Elliott.  A  sanguinary  encounter  followed.  Thurot,  alias 
O'Farrell,  and  three  hundred  of  his  marines  and  sailors  were 
killed.  The  French  vessels  were  fearful  wrecks,  and  the 
victorious  English  towed  them  in  a  sinking  condition  into 
Ramsay.  Thus  terminated  one  of  the  most  gallant  naval 
episodes  of  the  eighteenth  century. 

When  the  Earl  of  Harrington,  afterward  Duke  of  Devon- 
shire, became  Lord  Lieutenant  some  time  after  the  recall  of 
Lord  Chesterfield,  the  odious  Primate  Stone — accused  both 
in  England  and  Ireland  of  unspeakable  immorality — ruled 
Ireland  as  completely  as  had  his  less  filthy  predecessor,  Pri- 
mate Boulter.  Ireland,  at  the  outset  of  the  new  regime,  was 
astonished  to  find  a  respectable  surplus  in  her  treasury,  and 
Lord  Chesterfield,  who  always,  while  he  lived,  took  a  deep 
interest  in  Irish  affairs,  sent  a  congratulatory  letter  on  the 
seeming  prosperity  of  the  country  to  his  friend,  the  Bishop 
of  Waterford.  The  Patriot  party  in  the  Commons,  led  by 
the  sagacious  and  eloquent  Malone,  advocated  the  expendi- 
ture of  the  surplus  on  public  works  and  needed  public  build- 
ings throughout  Ireland  and  in  the  capital.  But  Stone  and 
the  Castle  ring  fought  the  proposition  bitterly,  contending 
that  the  money  belonged  to  the  crown  and  could  be  drawn  by 
royal  order  on  the  vice-treasurer,  without  regard  to  Par- 
liament. When  the  Duke  of  Dorset  succeeded  Harrington 
as  viceroy,  in  1751,  the  question  had  reached  an  acute  stage. 
Opposition  to  the  royal  claim  on  the  Irish  surplus  had  led 
to  the  expulsion  of  Dr.  Lucas  from  Ireland.  But  Malone 
and  Speaker  Boyle  kept  up  the  fight  in  the  Commons,  and, 
after  having  sustained  one  defeat,  on  a  full  vote,  finally 
came  out  victorious  by  having  the  supply  bill,  which  cov- 
ered all  government  service  in  the  kingdom,  thrown  out  by 

444  The  People's  History  of  Ireland 

a  vote  of  122  to  117.  Government  showed  its  resentment 
by  canceling  Malone's  patent  of  precedence  as  Prime  Ser- 
geant, and  striking  Speaker  Boyle's  name  from  the  list  of 
privy-councilors.  This  was  outrageous  enough,  but  what 
followed  was  still  more  so.  The  king  (George  II)  by  ad- 
vice of  Dorset,  Stone,  and  their  clique,  overrode  the  action 
of  the  Irish  Parliament  and  despotically,  by  operation  of 
a  king's  letter,  withdrew  the  long-disputed  surplus  from  the 
Irish  national  treasury.  This  crowning  infamy  was  con- 
summated in  1753,  and  so  great  became  public  indignation 
that  Stone  and  the  obnoxious  ministers  were  mobbed,  and 
the  Duke  of  Dorset  could  not  appear  on  the  streets  of  Dub- 
lin without  being  hooted  at  and  otherwise  insulted.  Anglo- 
Ireland  seemed  on  the  brink  of  revolution,  but  the  popular 
leaders  took  a  conservative  attitude  and  thus  avoided  a 
violent  crisis.  Dorset,  alarmed  by  the  tempest  he  had  him- 
self created,  virtually  fled  from  Dublin,  followed  by  the 
execration  of  the  multitude.  He  left  the  government  in  the 
hands  of  three  Lords  Justices,  one  of  whom  was  Primate 
Stone,  whose  very  name  was  hateful  to  the  incensed  people. 

The  viceroy  was  followed  to  England  by  the  popular 
leader  of  the  Irish  House  of  Lords,  James  Fitz-Gerald,  2Oth 
Earl  of  Kildare,  who  had  married  the  daughter  of  the 
Duke  of  Richmond,  and,  consequently,  had  a  powerful  En- 
glish backing.  Kildare  presented  to  King  George,  in  per- 
son, a  memorial  in  which  he  strongly  denounced  the  mis- 
government  of  Ireland  by  Dorset,  Stone,  and  Lord  George 
Sackville,  Dorset's  intermeddling  son.  This  memorial  has 
been  described  as  "the  boldest  ever  addressed  by  a  subject 
to  a  sovereign." 

Although  Lord  Holderness,  an  English  courtier,  in  a 
letter  to  Chancellor  Jocelyn,  says  that  the  bold  Geraldine 

The  People's  History  of  Ireland  445 

"was  but  ill-received  and  very  coolly  dismissed"  by  the 
king,  Kildare's  policy  soon  prevailed  in  Ireland.  Dorset 
was  recalled  in  the  succeeding  year,  and  Primate  Stone,  with 
•whom  Kildare  refused  to  act  as  Lord  Justice,  was  removed 
from  the  ministry  of  Ireland. 

The  Duke  of  Devonshire,  formerly  Lord  Harrington,  or 
Hartington,  succeeded  Dorset,  and  immediately  began  the 
congenial  work,  to  an  English  statesman,  of  breaking  up, 
and  rendering  harmless,  the  Irish  Patriot  party.  Boyle  was 
made  Chancellor  of  the  Exchequer  and  was  raised  to  the 
peerage  as  the  Earl  of  Shannon,  receiving  also  a  pension 
of  £2,000  per  annum  for  thirty-one  years.  Malone  would 
have  accepted  the  Lord  Chancellorship  gladly,  but  was  re- 
strained by  both  private  and  public  opinion  from  doing  so 
openly.  But  Mitchel  says  that  while  Boyle  remained  nom- 
inal chancellor,  Malone  quietly  pocketed  the  profits  of  the 
position,  and  his  patriotic  eloquence  declined  in  proportion 
to  the  growth  of  his  profits.  Other  leaders  of  the  Patriot 
party  were  also  "taken  care  of,"  and  England  managed  to 
get  rid  of  one  of  her  most  troublesome  "Irish  difficulties." 

The  purchased  Patriots,  however,  may  be  fairly  cred- 
ited with  having  forced  the  beginning  of  the  public  works, 
such  as  canals  and  highways,  in  Ireland,  and  the  construc- 
tion of  some  of  those  splendid  official  edifices  which  still, 
even  in  their  decay,  "lend  an  Italian  glory  to  the  Irish 

Lord  Kildare  stands  accused  of  having  entered  into  the 
negotiations  with  the  new  viceroy  for  the  "placation"  of 
the  Patriot  party  in  the  Commons.  Such,  however,  were 
the  political  "morals"  of  the  times,  and  the  offices  were, 
nominally  at  least,  Irish  and,  therefore,  quasi,  not  fully, 
national — seeing  that  Ireland  was  what  might  be  called  a 

446  The  People's  History  of  Ireland 

semi-independent  colonial  province,  distrustful  of  England, 
but  without  strength  or  resolution  to  snap  her  chains.  The 
earl  soon  became  Marquis  of  Kildare,  and,  subsequently, 
Duke  of  Leinster,  but  he  is  best  remembered  as  the  father 
of  the  gallant,  unselfish,  and  devoted  Lord  Edward  Fitz- 
gerald, of  1798  fame. 

An  attempt  made,  in  March,  1756,  to  pass  a  bill  in  the 
Irish  Commons  to  vacate  the  seats  of  such  members  as 
should  accept  "any  pension  or  civil  office  of  profit  from 
the  crown,"  was  defeated  by  a  vote  of  85  to  59 — thus  giv- 
ing plain  notice  to  the  English  viceroy  that  the  Parliament 
was  up  for  auction,  and,  within  less  than  fifty  years  from 
that  date,  it  was,  accordingly,  like  that  of  Scotland,  "knocked 
down  to  the  highest  bidder."  How  could  it  be  otherwise? 
when,  as  Mitchel  truly  says  in  his  Continuation  of  Mc- 
Geoghegan's  "History  of  Ireland,"  "The  English  Protestant 
colony  in  Ireland,  which  aspired  to  be  a  nation,  amounted 
to  something  under  half  a  million  of  souls,  in  1754.  It 
was  out  of  the  question  that  it  should  be  united  on  a  foot- 
ing of  equality  with  its  potent  mother  country  by  'the 
golden  link  of  the  crown,'  because  the  wearer  of  that  crown 
was  sure  to  be  guided  in  his  policy  by  English  ministers, 
in  accordance  with  English  interests;  and,  as  the  army  was 
the  king's  army,  he  could  always  enforce  that  policy.  The 
fatal  weakness  of  the  colony  was  that  it  would  not  amalga- 
mate with  the  mass  of  the  Irish  people  (i.e.  the  Catholics) 
so  as  to  form  a  true  nation,  but  set  up  the  vain  pretension 
to  hold  down  a  whole  disfranchised  people  with  one  hand 
and  defy  all  England  with  the  other."  And  this  insensate 
policy  was  pursued,  with  little  modification,  to  the  end, 
and  in  the  end  proved  fatal  to  both  "the  colony"  and  the 

The  People's  History  of  Ireland  447 


More  Persecution  of  Catholics  Under  George  II — Secret  Committee 
Formed — Snubbed  by  the  Speaker — Received  by  the  Vice- 
roy— Anti-Union  Riot  in  Dublin 

TH  HE  Duke  of  Bedford  became  Lord  Lieutenant  of  Ireland 
1  in  1757,  and  came  as  a  "conciliator,"  with  a  smile  on 
his  face  "and  a  bribe  in  his  pocket."  His  mission  was  to 
"soften"  the  penal  laws,  which  had  again  become  too  scan- 
dalous for  the  "liberal"  and  "civilized"  reputation  of  Eng- 
land on  the  Continent.  One  Miss  O'Toole,  a  Catholic,  had 
been  pressed  by  some  Protestant  friends  to  "conform"  to 
the  Established  Church,  so  as  to  avoid  persecution,  and  fled 
to  the  house  of  a  relative  named  Saul,  who  resided  in  Dub- 
lin, in  order  to  escape  disagreeable  importunity.  Mr.  Saul 
was  prosecuted  and  convicted,  under  the  penal  code,  and  the 
judge  who  "tried"  the  case  said,  in  his  charge,  that  "Papists 
had  no  rights,"  because  the  "law"  under  which  poor  Saul 
was  punished  "did  not,"  in  the  language  of  the  court,  "pre- 
sume a  Papist  to  exist  in  the  kingdom,  nor  could  Papists 
so  much  as  breathe  the  air  without  the  connivance  of  govern- 
ment !"  This  judge,  harsh  as  his  language  may  now  seem, 
did  not  misstate  the  case,  for  such,  indeed,  was  the  bar- 
barous "law  of  the  land"  at  that  period,  and  for  a  consid- 
erable time  afterward. 

The  bigots  in  the  Irish  Commons,  soon  after  the  arrival 
of  the  Duke  of  Bedford  in  Dublin,  had  prepared  a  new  and 
even  more1  drastic  bill  of  penalties  against  Catholics  than 
already  existed,  and  so  intolerable  were  its  proposals  that 
several  leading  Catholics  among  "the  nobility,  gentry,  and 

Ireland — 20  Vol.  I 

448  The  People's  History  of  Ireland 

professional  [clandestinely]  classes"  got  together,  and,  after 
a  time,  formed,  in  out-of-the-way  meeting  places,  the  first 
"Catholic  Committee"  of  Ireland — the  precursor,  by  the 
way,  of  the  many  similar  organizations  conducted  by  John 
Keogh,  Daniel  O'Connell,  and  other  Catholic  leaders  of  suc- 
ceeding generations. 

The  chief  men  of  this  committee  were  Charles  O'Conor, 
the  Irish  scholar  and  antiquary;  Dr.  Curry,  the  historical 
reviewer;  Mr.  Wyse,  a  leading  merchant  of  the  city  of 
Waterford;  Lords  Fingal,  Devlin,  Taaffe,  and  some  others 
less  known  to  fame.  These  amiable  gentlemen  were,  at 
first,  frightened  by  the  sound  of  their  own  voices,  but  they 
gradually  grew  bolder,  although  they  did  not  proceed  far 
enough  to  bring  down  upon  their  heads  the  full  wrath  of 
"government."  Indeed,  they  were,  on  most  occasions,  ob- 
sequiously "loyal"  to  the  "crown,"  which  meant  the  English 
king  and  connection.  But  the  iron  had  entered  their  souls, 
and  the  stain  of  its  corrosion  lingered  long  in  their  veins. 
When  the  Duke  of  Bedford,  by  the  instructions  of  the  elder 
Pitt  (Chatham),  who  acted  for  King  George,  informed  the 
Irish  Parliament  that  France  contemplated  a  new  invasion 
and  called  upon  the  Irish  people  to  show  their  loyalty  to  the 
House  of  Hanover,  Charles  O'Conor  drew  up  an  abjectly 
"loyal"  address,  which  was  signed  by  300  leading  Catho- 
lics, and  had  it  presented  at  the  bar  of  the  House  of  Com- 
mons (Dublin)  by  Messrs.  Antony  MacDermott  and  John 
Crump.  The  speaker,  Mr.  Ponsonby,  received  the  document 
in  dead  silence,  laid  it  on  the  table  in  front  of  him,  and  coolly 
bowed  the  delegation  out.  The  Duke  of  Bedford,  however, 
took  "gracious"  notice  of  the  address,  and  caused  his  answer 
thereto,  which  was  appreciative — England  being  then  in 
mortal  terror  of  the  French — to  be  printed  in  the  Dublin 

The  People's  History  of  Ireland  449 

"Gazette,"  which  was  the  "government's"  official  organ. 
And  the  poor  Catholic  gentlemen,  who  had  signed  the  cring- 
ing document,  went  into  convulsions  of  joy  because  of  this 
"official  recognition"  of  their  slavish  professions  of  "loy- 
alty" to  a  foreign  king,  who  cared  less  for  them  than  for  the 
blacks  of  the  West  Indies! 

But  Mitchel,  the  Protestant  historian,  who  understood 
his  country's  sad  story  better,  perhaps,  than  any  writer  who 
ever  dealt  with  it,  makes  for  the  Catholic  committee  this 
ingenious  apology:  "We  may  feel  indignant,"  says  he,  "at 
the  extreme  humility  of  the  proceedings  of  the  committee, 
and  lament  that  the  low  condition  of  our  countrymen  at 
that  time  left  no  alternative  but  that  of  professing  a  hypo- 
critical 'loyalty'  to  their  oppressors;  for  the  only  other  al- 
ternative was  secret  organization  to  prepare  an  insurrection 
for  the  total  extirpation  of  the  English  colony  in  Ireland, 
and,  carefully  disarmed  as  the  Catholics  were  [and  still 
are],  they,  doubtless,  felt  this  to  be  an  impossible  project. 
Yet,  for  the  honor  of  human  nature,  it  is  necessary  to  state 
the  fact  that  this  profession  of  loyalty,  to  a  king  of  Eng- 
land, was,  in  reality,  insincere.  Hypocrisy,  in  such  a  case, 
is  less  disgraceful  than  would  have  been  a  genuine  canine 
attachment  to  the  hand  that  smote  and  to  the  foot  that 

But  Bedford,  in  his  policy  of  conciliation,  had  even  a 
deeper  motive  than  fear  of  France.  The  statesmen  of  Eng- 
land, jealous  of  even  the  poor  and  almost  impotent  colonial 
Parliament  of  Ireland,  so  early  as  1759,  contemplated  that 
"legislative  union,"  which  was  to  be  effected  in  later  times. 
Bedford's  design  was  the  truly  English  one  of  arraying  the 
Irish  Catholics  against  the  Protestant  nationalists,  who  had, 
with  England's  willing  aid,  so  cruelly  persecuted  them. 

45°  The  People's  History  of  Ireland 

When  this  project  got  mooted  abroad,  the  Protestant  mob 
of  Dublin — the  Catholics  were  too  cowed  at  the  time  to 
act,  and  their  leaders  were  committed  to  Bedford  by  their 
address — rose  in  their  might,  on  December  3,  1759,  sur- 
rounded the  Houses  of  Parliament  and  uttered  tumultuous 
shouts  of  "No  Union!  no  Union!"  They  stopped  every 
member  of  Parliament,  as  he  approached  to  enter  the 
House,  and  made  him  swear  that  he  would  oppose  the 
union  project.  They  violently  assaulted  the  Lord  Chan- 
cellor, whom  they  believed  to  be  a  Unionist,  together  with 
many  other  lords,  spiritual  and  secular,  and  "ducked"  one 
member  of  the  Privy  Council  in  the  river  Liffey.  The 
Speaker  and  Secretary  of  the  House  of  Commons  had  to  ap- 
pear in  the  portico  of  the  House  and  solemnly  assure  the 
people  that  no  union  was  contemplated.  Even  this  assur- 
ance did  not  quell  the  tumult,  and,  finally,  a  fierce  charge 
of  dragoons  and  the  bayonets  of  a  numerous  infantry,  ac- 
companied by  a  threat  of  using  cannon,  cleared  the  streets. 
Following  up  the  policy  of  "conciliation,"  the  Catholic  lead- 
ers, with  slavish  haste,  repudiated  the  actions  of  the  Prot- 
estant mob,  and  thus  produced  a  contemptuous  bitterness 
in  the  Protestant  mind,  which  aggravated  the  factious  feel- 
ing in  the  unfortunate  country.  England's  work  was  well 
done.  She  had  planted,  as  a  small  seed,  the  idea  of  ab- 
sorbing the  Irish  Parliament  some  day,  and  was  willing  to 
let  it  take  its  own  time  to  ripen  into  Dead  Sea  fruit  for 
Ireland.  The  Catholic  helot  had  been  cunningly  played  off 
against  his  Protestant  oppressor,  and  thus  the  subject  nation 
had  been  made  the  forger  of  its  own  fetters — at  least  in 
appearance,  although  England  was  the  real  artificer.  Many 
Catholics  in  humble  life  may  have  joined  in  the  Dublin  anti- 
union  riots,  but  the  Cathofic  chiefs,  who  had  their  own  axe 

The  People's  History  of  Ireland  451 

to  grind,  were  resolved  to  appear  "loyal" — all  the  more  so 
because  some  of  the  Protestant  leaders  in  the  late  disorders 
sought  to  fasten  the  responsibility  on  the  members  of  the 
proscribed  faith.  The  outbreak,  as  was  well  known,  was 
mainly  the  work  of  the  followers  of  Dr.  Lucas,  then  in  ex- 
ile, but  soon  to  be  a  Member  of  Parliament,  and  the  fiercest 
opponent  of  a  legislative  union  with  Great  Britain. 

"It  deserves  remark,"  says  a  historian  of  the  period, 
"that  on  this  first  occasion,  when  a  project  of  a  legislative 
union  was  really  entertained  by  an  English  ministry,  thtt 
Patriot  party  which  opposed  it  was  wholly  and  exclusively 
of  the  Protestant  colony,  and  that  the  Catholics  of  Ireland 
were  totally  indifferent,  and,  indeed,  they  could  not  ration- 
ally be  otherwise,  as  it  was  quite  impossible  for  them  to 
feel  an  attachment  to  a  national  legislature  in  which  they 
were  not  represented,  and  for  whose  members  they  could 
not  even  cast  a  vote." 

George  II  died  of  "rupture  of  the  heart" — probably  from 
the  bursting  of  an  arterial  aneurism  in  that  region — in  1760. 
He  was  never  popular  in  England,  because  of  his  German 
ways  and  affections,  and  the  Irish  people  regarded  him  with 
indifference.  They  had  never  seen  him,  and  he  was  about 
as  much  of  a  stranger  in  his  Irish  realm  as  the  Shah  of 
Persia  or  the  Khan  of  Tartary.  His  reign  had  lasted 
twenty-eight  years,  and,  in  all  that  period,  the  estimated 
population  of  Ireland — for  there  was  no  regular  census — 
increased  only  60,000.  Presbyterian  and  Catholic  emigra- 
tion to  the  colonies — superinduced  by  the  penal  laws  against 
both — was  mainly  the  cause  of  this  remarkable  stagnation. 
There  had  been  two  famines  also,  and  the  victims  of  artifi- 
cial scarcity — a  condition  produced  by  restrictions  on  trade 
and  manufacture — were  numerous. 

452  The  People's  History  of  Ireland 


Accession  of  George  III — His  Character — Boasts  of  Being  "a  Briton" 
— Death  of  Dr.  Lucas — Lord  Townsend's  Novel  Idea  of  Gov- 
erning Ireland — Septennial  Parliament  Refused 

THE  long  reign  of  George  III,  grandson  of  the  late 
monarch,  began  in  the  month  of  October,  1760,  when 
he  had  attained  the  age  of  2.2,  years.  His  father,  Fred- 
erick Louis,  Prince  of  Wales,  was  a  dissolute  and  almost 
imbecile  person,  and  was  hated  by  his  own  father,  George 
II,  with  a  most  unnatural  hatred.  No  doubt  he,  in  great 
measure,  deserved  it,  for  a  member  of  his  own  family 
described  Frederick  Louis  as  being  "the  greatest  brute  and 
ass  in  Christendom."  George  III,  when  he  mounted  the 
English  throne,  was  a  dull,  commonplace  young  man,  with- 
out pronounced  personal  vices,  but  exceedingly  obstinate 
and  subject  to  spells  of  temper,  when  strongly  opposed, 
that  gave  assurance  of  future  mental  weakness.  He  was 
not,  by  nature,  cruel,  but  circumstances  developed  gross 
cruelty  under  his  regime,  in  India,  in  America,  and  in  Ire- 
land. He  had  enough  of  the  Stuart  blood  in  him  to  be  a 
stickler  for  "the  right  divine"  of  kings,  and  he  was  enough 
of  a  Guelph  to  have  his  own  way  with  even  his  most  per- 
suasive ministers.  His  father's  politics,  so  far  as  he  had 
any,  leaned  toward  Whiggery,  but  after  that  prince's  death 
his  mother  had  placed  him  under  the  tutelage  of  the  Mar- 
quis of  Bute,  who  was  an  ardent  Tory.  Consequently,  the 
young  king  had  had  the  advantage  of  being  taught  in  the 
two  great  English  schools  of  policy,  but,  in  the  long  run, 
the  Tory  in  his  nature  prevailed  over  the  Whig,  and  George 
III  finally  developed  into  a  fierce  and  intolerant  desoot. 

The  People's  History  of  Ireland  453 

All  that  could  be  said  in  his  favor  was  that,  after  he  mar- 
ried— and  he  married  young — his  court  became,  at  once,  a 
model  of  propriety  and  dulness.  The  painted  harlots,  fos- 
tered by  his  grandfather  and  great-grandfather,  were  not 
succeeded  by  others  of  their  kind,  and  the  prudent  mothers 
of  England  no  longer  feared  to  allow  their  handsome 
daughters  to  enter  the  precincts  of  the  royal  palace.  The 
English  masses  were,  at  first,  greatly  astonished  at  the 
personal  purity  of  their  sovereign,  but,  after  a  while,  be- 
came reconciled  to  the  belief  that  a  monarch  need  not, 
necessarily,  be  a  libertine. 

King  George  evidently  borrowed  a  leaf  from  the  book 
of  Queen  Anne  when  he  assumed  the  crown.  She  had  as- 
sured her  subjects  that  hers  was  "an  entirely  English  heart." 
George's  first  address  from  the  throne  opened  with  the  words, 
"Born  and  educated  in  this  country,  I  glory  in  the  name  of 
Briton."  Coming  from  a  king,  this  sentiment,  addressed  to 
a  people  in  general  so  fervidly  "loyal"  as  the  English,  pro- 
duced a  most  favorable  effect,  and,  to  the  end  of  his  long 
reign,  was  never  forgotten,  even  when  his  mule-like  ob- 
stinacy wellnigh  goaded  them  to  desperation.  George  III, 
from  first  to  last,  in  his  love  of  domination,  impatience  of 
opposition,  carelessness  of  the  rights  of  other  peoples,  ego- 
tism, intolerance,  and  commercial  greed,  stood  for  John 
Bull.  Behind  John  Bull  stood  England,  very  much  as  she 
still  stands  to-day.  The  address  continued  by  declaring 
that  the  civil  and  religious  rights  of  his  "loving  subjects" 
were  equally  dear  to  him  with  the  most  valuable  preroga- 
tives of  the  crown.  It  was  his  fixed  purpose,  he  said,  to 
countenance  and  encourage  the  practice  of  true  religion  and 
virtue.  The  eyes  of  all  Europe,  he  declared,  were  on  that 
Parliament  and  from  it  "the  Protestant  interest  hoped  for 

454  The  People's  History  of  Ireland 

protection."  At  the  end  of  the  speech,  King  George  in- 
timated that  the  toleration  of  the  Catholics — that  is,  con- 
nivance at  their  existence,  particularly  in  Ireland — would 
not  be  interfered  with.  But  the  penal  statutes  remained 
unrepealed,  and  the  Irish  Catholics  continued  to  be  perse- 
cuted, although  rather  less  brutally,  particularly  as  regarded 
their  religious  observances,  in  their  own  country.  They 
were  not  allowed  to  vote,  or  hold  office,  or  have  any  say 
whatever  in  public  affairs,  although  they  were  subject  to 
taxes  and  fines.  They  could  not  be  educated,  and  were 
debarred  from  practicing  any  profession  under  long-estab- 
lished penalties.  In  short,  they  were  very  little  better  off 
during  the  earlier  years  of  George  Ill's  reign  than  under 
the  sway  of  his  two  immediate  predecessors. 

The  Irish  Protestant  mind,  however,  did  not  lose  its  patri- 
otic impulse,  because  of  the  interested  silence  of  Malone, 
Boyle,  and  the  former  leaders  of  the  Patriot  party.  Mem- 
bers of  Parliament  had  hitherto  been  elected  to  serve  dur- 
ing the  life  of  the  sovereign,  and,  in  the  beginning  of  the 
reign  of  George  III,  the  new  Irish  Parliament  began  an 
earnest  agitation  for  octennial  Parliaments.  Among  the 
able  men — some  of  them  destined  to  be  famous — who  were 
elected  to  the  new  body  were  Hussey  Burgh,  Dennis  Bowes 
Daly,  Henry  Flood,  and  Dr.  Lucas.  It  should  have  been 
stated  that  the  original  Irish  demand  was  for  a  seven  years' 
Parliament,  and  bills  were  passed,  in  1761  and  1763,  em- 
bodying the  proposition,  but  the  king  and  English  Privy 
Council,  to  whom  they  had  to  be  submitted,  under  the 
Poynings'  Act,  coolly  "pocketed"  them,  and  they  were  heard 
of  no  more.  This  arbitrary  conduct  of  an  alien  monarch, 
and  advisory  body,  aroused  great  public  indignation,  and  the 
clamor  became  so  loud,  in  1767,  that,  finally,  the  bill  was  re- 

The  People's  History  of  Ireland  455 

turned  from  England,  changed  to  octennial,  or  eight  years, 
and,  with  this  amendment,  it  passed  the  Irish  Parliament 
and  received  the  royal  sanction  in  February  of  the  succeed- 
ing year.  Under  the  new  act,  a  Parliament  was  elected  in 
1768,  and  all  the  advocates  of  the  new  dispensation  were 
re-elected.  Where  all  did  noble  work,  it  is  not  detracting 
from  their  merit  to  remark  that  Dr.  Lucas  was  the  real 
leader  of  the  movement,  and  was  generally  recognized  as 
such.  He  lived  only  two  years  after  his  great  triumph,  and 
was  almost  universally  mourned — the  only  exceptions  being 
the  members  of  the  corrupt  Court  party.  He  was  formally 
eulogized  in  the  Irish  House  of  Commons,  and  at  his  funeral 
the  pall-bearers  were  Lord  Kildare,  Lord  Charlemont, 
Henry  Flood,  Sir  Lucius  O'Brien,  Hussey  Burgh,  and 
Speaker  Ponsonby. 

The  Patriot  party  continued,  in  the  new  Parliament,  under 
the  administration  of  Lord  Townsend,  a  vigorous  opposi- 
tion to  unjust  pension  lists,  and  other  evils  which  afflicted 
the  nation.  The  Lord  Lieutenant,  who  was  jolly  and  persua- 
sive, also  corrupt,  attempted  to  break  up  the  opposition  after 
the  good  old  English  fashion,  but  made  no  impression  on 
the  able  phalanx  led  by  Flood,  who,  after  the  death  of  Lu- 
cas, was  looked  upon  as  the  chief  of  the  Patriot  element  in 
the  Commons.  Kildare,  notwithstanding  his  peculiar  action 
in  the  days  of  Malone,  et  aL,  continued  to  champion  the  popu- 
lar cause  in  the  House  of  Peers.  Resistance  to  the  supply 
bill,  which  changed  the  Irish  military  establishment  from 
12,000  to  15,000  men,  brought  about  the  prorogation  of 
Parliament  session  after  session  for  nearly  two  years. 
Meanwhile,  the  Castle  was  quietly  "seeing"  the  members, 
and,  in  spite  of  Flood  and  Speaker  Ponsonby,  an  address  of 
confidence,  carried  by  a  bare  majority,  was  passed  by  the 

456  The  People's  History  of  Ireland 

Commons.  The  Speaker  refused  to  present  it  and  resigned 
his  post.  A  Mr.  Perry  was  elected  to  succeed  him,  and,  for 
a  time,  it  looked  as  if  the  Patriots  might  be  broken  up.  But 
Mr.  Perry,  in  spite  of  his  suspicious  conduct  in  accepting 
the  speakership,  vacated  by  his  friend,  Mr.  Ponsonby,  re- 
mained faithful  to  Irish  interests  and  the  ranks  of  the  oppo- 
sition became  even  more  formidable  than  before. 

Lord  Townsend,  the  jolly  old  corruptionist,  became  so 
unpopular  that  nearly  every  public  print  in  Dublin  was 
filled  with  lampoons  upon  him,  and,  finally,  he  requested 
retirement  and  was  succeeded  by  Lord  Harcourt,  in  1772. 
He  began  well,  but  ended  badly,  as  is  usual  with  English 
viceroys  in  Ireland,  who  have  seldom  failed  to  fall  eventu- 
ally under  Dublin  Castle  influences.  He  attempted  to  throw 
unjust  burdens  on  Ireland,  but  was  resisted  at  every  point, 
particularly  when  he  sought  to  make  the  supply  bill  extend 
over  two  years  instead  of  one.  Henry  Flood  delivered  one 
of  his  best  speeches  in  opposition  to  this  dishonest  innova- 
tion. Hussey  Burgh  promised  that  if  any  member  in  future 
brought  in  such  a  bill  he  would  move  his  expulsion.  But  the 
climax  was  reached  when  the  Hon.  George  Ogle,  of  Wex- 
ford,  author  of  the  well-known  lyric,  "Molly  Astore,"  which 
has  retained  its  popularity  for  more  than  a  century,  pro- 
posed that  the  bill,  as  introduced,  be  burned  by  the  hangman. 
The  Speaker  reminded  Mr.  Ogle  that  the  document  was 
decorated  with  the  great  seal.  "Then,"  replied  the  witty 
poet,  "it  will  burn  all  the  better!"  Mr.  Ogle's  suggestion 
was  not  carried  out,  but  the  bill  was  subsequently  modified 
to  suit  the  ideas  of  the  House  of  Commons. 

The  People's  History  of  Ireland  457 


The  Peace  of  Paris — Agrarian  Warfare  in  Ireland — Judicial   Murder 

of  Father  Sheehy — All  who  Swore  Against  Him  Die  Violent 

Deaths — Secret  Societies 

THE  Peace  of  Paris,  1763,  brought  the  Seven  Years' 
War  to  a  conclusion  on  the  Continent  of  Europe. 
Frederick  the  Great  retained  Silesia,  formerly  an  Austrian 
province,  to  which  he  had  no  just  title;  and  there  were 
other  territorial  changes  of  less  importance.  England  had 
triumphed  over  the  French  interest  in  America ;  for  Wolfe's 
victory  of  the  Plains  of  Abraham,  at  Quebec,  in  Septem- 
ber, 1759,  decided  the  game  of  war  in  favor  of  the  British, 
although  other  battles  were  fought  by  the  opposing  forces 
after  that  event. 

Agrarian  oppression  in  Ireland,  particularly  in  the  South, 
had  caused  the  peasantry  to  organize  themselves  into  secret 
societies  for  mutual  protection.  It  was  thus  that  the  fa- 
mous "White  Boys"  of  the  last  century — so  called  from 
wearing  linen  shirts,  or  white  woolen  jackets,  over  their 
other  clothes,  so  as  to  give  them  a  uniform  appearance — 
came  into  existence.  Their  methods  were  crude,  wild,  often 
fierce  and  sometimes  cruel.  They  defied  the  law  because 
they  had  found  no  element  of  protection  in  it.  Rather 
had  they  found  it,  as  administered  by  the  landlord  oligarchy,  • 
in  whose  hands  it  was  placed  by  the  evil  genius  of  England, 
an  instrument  of  intolerable  oppression.  No  justice  was 
to  be  obtained  by  any  appeal  they  might  make  to  their  ty- 
rants, and  so  they  resorted  to  what  an  Irish  orator  has 
called  "the  wild  justice  of  revenge. "  As  usual,  some  natu- 
rally bad  men  found  their  way  into  these  organizations,  and 

45 8  The  People's   History  of  Ireland 

often  vented  their  malice  on  individuals  in  the  name  of  the 
trampled  people.  The  landlords  took  advantage  of  the 
commission  of  crime  to  get  up  another  "Popish  plot"  scare, 
and  succeeded  in  making  shallow  and  timid  people  accept 
the  slander  as  truth.  The  real  object  of  the  "White  Boys" 
was  to  secure  low  rentals  on  tillage  land,  and  to  preserve 
"commonage  rights" — that  is,  grazing  lands  in  common  at 
a  nominal  cost,  or  else  free,  something  that  had  long  been 
the  usage — for  their  stock.  The  landlords,  not  satisfied 
with  levying  exorbitant  rents,  and  grown,  if  possible, 
harder  and  more  greedy  than  ever,  finally  abolished  and 
fenced  in  "the  commons."  This  action  aroused  the  fury  of 
the  peasantry,  particularly  in  the  Munster  counties,  and 
they  collected  in  large  bodies  and  demolished  the  land- 
lords' fences.  This  gave  the  tyrants  an  excuse  to  call  for 
military  aid — the  argument  being  that  the  people  were  in 
arms  against  "the  crown,"  which,  of  course,  was  false. 
The  poor  peasantry  struck  at  their  nearest  and  most  visi- 
ble oppressors,  and  never  thought  about  "the  crown."  The 
king  was,  to  them,  very  like  a  myth.  It  would  seem  that 
many  of  the  poorer  Protestants  joined  with  the  Catholics 
in  the  demonstration  against  the  inclosures,  which,  of  course, 
showed  the  absurdity  of  the  "Popish  plot"  story.  Still,  the 
affair  was  not  to  terminate  until  it  begot  a  cruel  tragedy. 
The  parish  priest  of  Clogheen,  County  Tipperary,  in  1765, 
•  was  the  Rev.  Nicholas  Sheehy,  a  high-minded  and  saintly 
man,  whose  heart  was  deeply  touched  by  the  sufferings  of 
the  poor  tenants,  whose  ardent  and  eloquent  champion  he 
became.  The  Cromwellian  "aristocracy"  of  the  county, 
headed  by  the  Bagnals,  the  Maudes,  the  Bagwells,  the 
Tolers,  and  a  parson  named  Hewitson,  resolved  to  get  rid 
of  Father  Sheehy,  and  only  waited  for  a  good  chance  to 

The  People's  History  of  Ireland  459 

insnare  him  in  their  toils.  Two  years  previous  to  the  date 
already  given,  they  had  had  the  young  priest  arrested  on  a 
charge  of  swearing  in  "White  Boys,"  but,  because  of  insuffi- 
cient evidence,  he  was  acquitted.  Soon  after  he  was  re- 
leased, one  Bridge,  who  had  been  a  principal  witness  against 
him,  mysteriously  disappeared.  The  oligarchs  had  the 
priest  arrested  immediately  on  a  charge  of  murder.  The 
witnesses  employed  to  appear  against  him  were  a  horse- 
stealer,  named  Toohey,  a  vagrant  youth  named  Lonergan, 
and  an  immoral  woman,  named  Dunlea.  He  had  lain  in 
Clonmel  jail,  heavily  ironed,  for  several  months  before  he 
was  brought  to  trial.  The  prosecution  did  not  have  their 
witnesses  fully  instructed.  At  last,  March  12,  1765,  Father 
Sheehy  was  brought  up  for  trial.  He  succeeded  in  proving 
an  alibi,  but  that  was  of  no  avail.  His  destruction  was  de- 
termined upon,  and,  on  March  15,  he  suffered  execution  by 
hanging  and  subsequent  decapitation.  This  atrocious  mur- 
der aroused  the  anger  of  the  country.  Protestants  and 
Catholics  alike  joined  in  execrating  the  crime.  Yet,  he  was 
not  the  only  victim.  In  May  of  the  same  year,  Edward 
Sheehy,  a  cousin,  and  two  other  young  farmers,  were  con- 
victed and  hanged  on  the  same  testimony  that  had  sent 
Father  Sheehy  to  his  untimely  grave.  McGee  says :  "The 
fate  of  their  enemies  is  notorious;  with  a  single  exception, 
they  met  deaths  violent,  loathsome,  and  terrible.  Maude 
died  insane,  Bagwell  in  idiocy;  one  of  the  jury  committed 
suicide,  another  was  found  dead  in  a  privy,  a  third  was 
killed  by  his  horse,  a  fourth  was  drowned,  a  fifth  shot,  and 
so  through  the  entire  list.  Toohey  was  hanged  for  felony, 
the  prostitute,  Dunlea,  fell  into  a  cellar  and  was  killed,  and 
the  lad,  Lonergan,  after  enlisting  as  a  soldier,  died  of  a 
loathsome  disease  in  a  Dublin  infirmary." 

460  The  People's  History  of  Ireland 

Another  attempt  at  persecution  of  the  priests  was  made 
in  1767,  but  Edmund  Burke,  the  illustrious  statesman,  and 
other  liberal  Protestants,  came  to  the  rescue  with  funds  for 
the  defence  of  the  accused,  and  the  oligarchy  were  unable 
to  secure  the  conviction  of  their  intended  victims.  The  fate 
of  the  perjured  informers,  who  swore  away  the  lives  of 
Father  Sheehy  and  his  fellow-sufferers,  was  well  known 
throughout  the  country,  and,  no  doubt,  had  a  wholesome 
effect  on  other  wretches  who  might  have  been  bribed  into 
following  their  example. 

The  "White  Boys"  were  not  the  only  secret  organiza- 
tion formed  in  Ireland  at  that  period.  Some  were  com- 
posed of  Protestants,  mostly  of  the  Presbyterian  sect,  who 
combated  in  Ulster  the  exactions  of  the  landlords.  They 
bore  such  names  as  "Hearts  of  Steel,"  because  they  were 
supposed  to  show  no  mercy  to  "the  petty  tyrants  of  their 
fields" ;  "Oak  Boys,"  because  they  carried  oaken  boughs,  or 
wore  oak  leaves  in  their  hats.  The  "Peep  o'  Day  Boys" 
were  political  rather  than  agrarian,  and  professed  the  pe- 
culiar principles  afterward  adopted  by  the  Orange  Associa- 
tion. They  confined  themselves  mainly  to  keeping  up  the 
anniversary  of  the  Boyne  and  making  occasional  brutal  at- 
tacks on  defenceless  Catholics.  The  respectable  Protestant 
element  kept  scrupulously  away  from  association  with  these 
rude  fanatics.  The  successors  of  the  "White  Boys"  in 
Munster  were  the  equally  dreaded  "Terry  Alts,"  who  ex- 
isted down  to  a  very  recent  period,  and  belonged,  mainly, 
to  the  County  Tipperary.  Like  the  "White  Boys,"  they 
raided  the  houses  of  "the  gentry"  and  their  retainers  for 
arms,  and  severe,  often  fatal,  conflicts  resulted  from  their 
midnight  visitations.  They  also  killed,  from  time  to  time, 
obnoxious  landlords  and  their  agents,  and  were  hanged  by 

The  People's  History  of  Ireland  461 

the  score  in  retaliation.  The  government  was  not  over-par- 
ticular regarding  their  guilt  or  innocence.  The  object  was  to 
avenge  the  slain  land-grabbers,  and  also  to  "strike  terror." 
As  usual,  many  base  informers  were  found  to  betray  their 
fellows,  but,  in  justice  to  the  "White  Boys"  and  "Terry 
Alts,"  it  may  be  stated  that  the  betrayers  of  their  secrets 
were  mostly  Castle  spies,  or  detectives,  employed  for  the 
purpose  of  entrapping  the  unwary.  Very  few  of  the  regu- 
lar members,  who  lived  among  their  own  relatives,  accepted 
blood  money.  In  many  cases,  the  peasantry  committed  un- 
necessary acts  of  violence,  but,  in  general,  they  only  visited 
with  severe  punishment  landlords  or  their  agents  who  were 
notorious  evictors,  or  farmers  who  "took  the  land"  over  the 
heads  of  the  evicted  tenants. 

The  Catholic  Church  was  the  consistent  opponent  of  the 
agrarian  organizations,  because  of  the  mutual  bloodshed 
between  them  and  the  landlord  element,  but,  much  as  the 
Catholic  peasants  held  their  bishops  and  priests  in  rever- 
ence, the  admonitions  of  the  latter  had  small  effect  on  the 
young  men  of  their  flocks  while  wholesale  evictions  were  in 
progress.  The  "boys,"  with  rough  logic,  would  say,  among 
themselves:  "The  clergy  mean  well,  but  we  had  better  be 
hanged  than  starved  to  death,  and,  besides,  revenge  on  our 
tyrants  is  sweet."  There  is  hardly  anything  in  Old  World 
history  more  ghastly  than  the  long,  desultory,  and  deadly 
war  of  tenant  against  landlord  in  Ireland,  from  the  days  of 
George  II  to  the  latter  part  of  Victoria's  reign.  It  is  a 
chapter  we  gladly  turn  away  from,  with  the  remark  that  the 
cruel  oligarchy,  who  wantonly  provoked  a  naturally  humane 
people  to  crime,  were  infinitely  more  criminal  than  the  poor, 
oppressed  peasants  they  made  desperate. 

462  The  People's  History  of  Ireland 


Flood  and  Grattan — Sudden   Rise  of  the  Latter — Speaks  for  a  Free 

Commerce — The   Volunteer   Movement — England   Yields 

to  Irish  Demand 

IT  was  unfortunate  for  both  America  and  Ireland  that 
Henry  Grattan,  who  had  entered  Parliament  in  Decem- 
ber, 1775,  had  not  attained  to  the  leadership  of  the  Patriot 
party  when  the  colonies  revolted  against  the  tyranny  of 
George  III.  Flood  held  that  position  when  hostilities  ap- 
peared imminent,  and  his  influence,  somewhat  ignorantly 
exerted,  had  much  to  do  with  voting  4,000  troops  from  the 
Irish  establishment  for  service  against  the  Americans.  At 
the  time,  the  American  case  was  not  as  well  understood 
in  Ireland  as  it  was  later  on,  and,  besides,  an  accommoda- 
tion was  hoped  for.  In  the  course  of  his  speech  support- 
ing the  policy  of  the  government,  Flood  said  that  the  troops 
from  Ireland  were  "armed  negotiators" — a  most  unfortu- 
nate phrase,  which  Grattan,  in  after  days,  turned  against 
him  to  good  effect,  when  he  uttered  that  fierce  philippic 
against  his  quondam  friend  during  an  acrimonious  debate 
which  arose  soon  after  the  Irish  Parliamentary  triumph  over 
England  in  1782.  It  must  be  remembered  by  American 
readers  that  the  Irish  Parliament  which  voted  men  to  put 
down  the  American  revolutionists  was  Protestant  in  creed 
and  mainly  English  in  blood.  Not  a  Catholic  sat  in  it,  and 
but  few  men  of  Celtic  origin.  The  sympathies  of  the  Cath- 
olic and  dissenting  masses  were  unmistakably  with  the 
Americans,  and  Grattan  in  the  Irish  Legislature,  and  Burke 
and  Brinsley  Sheridan  in  the  English  House  of  Commons, 
were  their  eloquent  champions.  Flood,  although  a  man  of 

The  People's  History  of  Ireland  463 

fine  intellect  and  an  accomplished  orator,  soon  found  him- 
self rather  outclassed  by  Grattan,  who  was  young,  ardent, 
and  animated  by  a  "pentecostal  fire,"  which  prompted  him 
to  utter  some  of  the  most  inspiring  speeches  that  ever 
flowed  from  the  lips  of  man.  Flood,  following  the  example 
of  Malone  at  another  period,  had  accepted  office  under  the 
Harcourt  administration,  and  it  was  openly  charged  by  his 
enemies,  and  probably  with  some  degree  of  truth,  that  he 
had  been  influenced  in  his  action  against  America  by  the  cir- 
cumstance. He  had  also  supported  the  embargo  measure, 
imposed  by  order  in  council,  which  debarred  Irish  food 
products  from  exportation  to  the  American  colonies  in 
revolt.  Naturally,  conduct  of  this  kind  produced  dissatis- 
faction among  his  friends  and  followers,  and  his  popularity 
immediately  declined. 

The  decline  of  Flood  as  a  Patriot  leader  left  a  free  field 
for  Grattan  and  his  best-known  competitors  for  oratorical 
honors,  Hussey  Burgh,  Bowes  Daly,  and  Yelverton.  At 
first,  Grattan  was  rather  chary  of  speech  in  the  House,  but, 
gradually,  he  gained  confidence  in  himself,  and,  although  his 
gestures  were  awkward  and  his  elocution  generally  faulty, 
the  matter  of  his  addresses  was  so  full  of  fire,  energy,  and 
logic  that  he  soon  became  the  acknowledged  chief  of  what 
Byron  happily  termed  in  his  "Irish  Avatar"  the  eloquent 
war.  The  restrictions  on  Irish  commerce  demanded  his  first 
attention,  and  his  earlier  utterances  in  Parliament  were 
mostly  devoted  to  that  question.  It  has  been  erroneously 
stated  that  Henry  Grattan  was  a  "free  trader"  in  the  Amer- 
ican and  British  sense  of  that  term.  On  the  contrary,  he  be- 
lieved in  a  moderate  tariff  for  the  protection  of  Irish  indus- 
tries, and  also  for  the  accumulation  of  a  revenue,  and  this 
was  fully  exemplified  by  the  action  of  the  Irish  Parliament, 

464  The  People's   History  of  Ireland 

when,  from  1782  to  1800,  it  became  virtually  independent, 
in  enacting  tariff  laws  for  the  objects  stated.  It  is  true  the 
tariff  in  regard  to  English  imports  was  comparatively  low, 
but  still  high  enough  to  give  the  Irish  manufacturer  a  good 
chance  to  compete  with  the  manufactures  of  the  richer  coun- 
try. What  Grattan  and  his  followers  wanted  was  free  com- 
merce— an  exemption  from  the  export  duties,  which  crippled 
Irish  merchants;  and  freedom  to  export  Irish  goods,  with- 
out hindrance  from  English  customs  officers,  to  any  country 
of  the  world. 

When  the  news  of  the  battle  of  Saratoga  and  surrender 
of  Burgoyne  to  the  American  army  reached  Ireland,  in  1777, 
it  produced  a  profound  impression.  Grattan,  who  always 
favored  the  American  cause,  moved  an  address  to  the  throne 
in  favor  of  retrenchment,  which  meant  reduction  of  the  mili- 
tary establishment,  while  Bowes  Daly  moved,  and  had  car- 
ried, another  address,  which  deplored  the  continuance  of 
the  American  war,  but  professed  fidelity  to  the  royal  person. 
As  usual,  when  England  got  the  worst  of  it  abroad,  small 
concessions  were  made  to  the  Irish  Catholics,  and  the  Irish 
Parliament  was  permitted  to  pass  a  bill  "authorizing  Papists 
to  loan  money  on  mortgages,  to  lease  lands  for  any  period 
not  exceeding  999  years,  and  to  inherit  and  bequeath  real 
property."  This  bill  had  "a  rider"  which  abolished  the  test 
oath  as  regarded  the  Dissenters,  and,  no  doubt,  this  provi- 
sion had  much  to  do  with  the  success  of  the  bill  as  a  whole, 
which  did  not,  however,  pass  without  strenuous  opposition. 

An  attempt  made  by  Lord  Nugent  in  the  English  Parlia- 
ment to  mitigate  the  severity  of  the  navigation  and  embargo 
acts,  as  regarded  Ireland,  was  howled  down  by  the  English 
manufacturers,  merchants,  and  tradespeople  generally.  The 
knowledge  of  this  action  spurred  on  Grattan  and  his  fol- 

The  People's  History  of  Ireland  465 

lowers  and,  thenceforward,  "Free  Trade"  became  their  rally- 
ing cry. 

Protestant  Ireland,  since  the  year  of  Thurot's  bold  ex- 
ploit, had  lived  in  much  terror  of  another  French  invasion, 
on  a  larger  scale.  When  France,  in  1778,  became  the  ally 
of  the  United  States  of  America,  which  had  declared  their 
independence  on  July  4,  1776,  this  feeling  of  alarm  in- 
creased. Their  leaders  demanded  military  protection  from 
the  government,  and  were  informed  that  the  latter  had  none 
to  give,  unless  they  would  accept  invalids  and  dismounted 
cavalrymen.  Henry  Flood,  seconded  by  Speaker  Perry,  had 
long  advocated  the  formation  of  a  national  militia,  and  these 
gentlemen  were  cordially  supported  in  the  proposition  by 
Grattan,  Lord  Charlemont,  and  other  noted  leaders  of  the 
Patriot  party.  A  bill  authorizing  a  volunteer  militia  passed 
the  Irish  Parliament  in  1778.  After  a  great  deal  of  discus- 
sion, it  was  deemed  more  prudent  to  form  the  force  from  in- 
dependent organizations  of  volunteers,  armed  by  the  state, 
but  clothed  and  otherwise  equipped  by  themselves.  They 
were  left  free  to  elect  their  own  officers.  Immediately,  a 
patriotic  impulse  permeated  the  nation,  and  the  Protestant 
Irish,  who  were  alone  permitted  to  bear  arms,  rallied  to  the 
armories  and  parade-grounds  by  the  thousand.  Belfast  and 
Strabane  claimed  the  honor  of  having  formed  the  first  com- 
panies. The  richer  among  the  Catholics  supplied  money  to 
the  poor  among  their  Protestant  neighbors  for  the  purchase 
of  uniforms  and  other  necessaries.  This  patriotic  action  on 
their  part  naturally  resulted  in  an  immediate  mitigation  of 
the  penal  discrimination  against  them  and  the  entrance  of 
hundreds  of  them  into  the  ranks  of  the  volunteers  was,  at 
first,  connived  at,  and  soon  openly  permitted.  The  result 
was  that,  by  the  spring  of  1780,  there  were,  at  least,  65,000 

466  The  People's  History  of  Ireland 

men  under  arms  for  Ireland  in  her  four  provinces — Ulster 
leading  in  numbers  and  enthusiasm.  The  rank  and  file 
were  artisans,  farmers,  and  clerks,  while  the  officers  were, 
in  general,  selected  from  among  the  wealthy  and  aristocratic 
classes.  Many  of  these  officers  equipped  their  companies,  or 
regiments,  at  their  own  expense.  The  Earl  of  Charlemont 
— a  weak  but  well-meaning  nobleman — was  elected  com- 
mander by  the  Ulster  volunteers,  while  the  amiable  Duke  of 
Leinster — the  second  of  that  proud  title — was  chosen  by 
those  of  Leinster.  Munster  and  Connaught,  not  being  quite 
as  well  organized  as  their  sister  provinces,  deferred  their 
selections.  All  English  goods  were  tabooed  by  the  volun- 
teers, their  families,  and  friends,  and  a  favorite  maxim  of 
the  period  was  that  of  Dean  Swift,  already  quoted,  "Burn 
everything  coming  from  England,  except  the  coal!" 

The  now  feeble  shadow  of  English  government,  holding 
court  at  Dublin  Castle,  viewed  this  formidable  uprising 
with  genuine  alarm,  and  did  its  utmost  to  prevent  the  issu- 
ance of  arms  to  the  volunteers,  but  the  Irish  leaders  were 
not  to  be  cajoled  or  baffled,  and,  in  the  summer  of  1779, 
the  new  Irish  army  was  thoroughly  armed,  drilled  and 
ready  for  any  service  that  might  be  demanded  from  it. 
The  leaders  had  now  the  weapon  to  enforce  their  rights  in 
hand,  and  did  not  fail  to  make  good  use  of  it.  They  met 
and  formed  plans  for  the  coming  session  of  Parliament, 
and  were  delighted  to  receive  assurances  from  Flood,  and 
other  officeholders,  that  they  would  support  Grattan  and 
his  allies  in  the  demand  that  Irish  commerce  have  "free 
export  and  import." 

An  address,  covering  the  points  stated,  with  the  amend- 
ment "free  trade"  substituted  by  Flood  for  the  original 
phrase,  passed  the  Houses,  when  they  met,  and  on  the  sue- 

The  People's  History  of  Ireland  467 

ceeding  day  the  House  of  Commons,  with  the  Speaker  at 
its  head,  proceeded  to  the  Castle  and  presented  the  address 
to  the  viceroy.  The  volunteers,  commanded  by  the  Duke 
of  Leinster,  occupied  both  sides  of  the  streets  through  which 
the  members  had  to  pass  and  presented  arms  to  the  nation's 
representatives,  many  of  whom  wore  the  diversified  uni- 
forms of  the  Patriot  army.  Dublin,  in  all  its  varied 
history,  never  witnessed  a  grander  or  more  inspiring 

Alderman  Horan,  of  Dublin,  precipitated  a  crisis  by  de- 
manding freedom  of  export  for  some  Irish  woolens  to